Two hundred people left to rebuild their homes and livelihoods from scratch after fire in Chaungzone Township

May 18, 2018

Thirty-six houses burnt to the ground in April as a fire ripped through A Pyine village, Kalaw village tract, in Chaungzone Township, resulting in 60,000,000 kyat (US $44,362.99) of damage and the displacement of families.

The fire began following a domestic dispute in Nai Mon Chan’s family house in Quarter 8, A Pyine village and subsequently spread to surrounding houses.

Most of the villagers work as fishermen and rely on the Salween (Thanlwin) River for their livelihoods. After losing all their possessions – including their fishing tackle – in the fire, they all face difficulties in returning to work. Daw Cho, who lost her house and fishing tackle in the fire, said, “we all work in fishing. I lost my house and all my property including my fishing tackle. It is impossible for us to go back to work as fishermen this year as we don’t have the money to invest in fishing tackle. To get enough money to buy equipment, we may need to work and save for three years. In the past, we were independent businessmen, but now we will all have to find salaried jobs.”

Currently, the victims of the fire are working as daily workers in the fishing industry and receive 8,000 kyat (US $5.91) per day. U Hla Maung told us that, “as for me, I am just returning from Thailand and have not been home yet. My wife works as a fisherman and spends most of her time at sea. After the fire destroyed our house, we asked if we could build a hut on someone’s farm and now we are going to live there.”

At the end of the rainy season, the Mon State government plans to return the land to the families who lost their land in the fire. “The state government told us not to live on the burned land yet. We heard that they’re planning to extend the road to the village to make it more accessible for fire trucks. If the government returns equal-sized plots of land to all the residents, the owners of bamboo houses are likely to accept it, but I think the owners of wooden and concrete houses may contest the amount of land offered,” said Daw Tin Oo, a victim of the fire.

According to residents, the state government has provided 80,000 kyat (US $59.13) to each of the families who have lost their houses and property in the fire.

The National League for Democracy topped this up with 200,000 kyat (US $147.82) for each family who had lost wooden houses and 100,000 kyat (US $73.91) for all who had lost bamboo houses. In addition, civil society organizations have provided the families with clothes, pillows, blankets, and other donations.

In total, 45 houses were burned, and 36 families lost all of their property in the fire and now face severe hardship. The victims include 84 men and 115 women; they are all now homeless.

 

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