Netherlands offers engineering help to flood-stricken Myanmar

The Dutch government has said that members of the Dutch Risk Reduction (DRR) team are ready to go when needed to help Myanmar, which has recently been hit by severe flooding.

Heavy rainfall has been affecting several countries in southern Asia. More than one million people urgently need aid and the material damage is considerable. A state of emergency has been declared in four regions. The Netherlands is already contributing to the relief efforts by organisations on the spot in Myanmar, including the UN and the Red Cross.

Minister Lilianne Ploumen said that the need for help is acute: ‘There is tremendous devastation and large numbers of people have been made homeless. More rain is expected, so it is vital to not only help the victims and provide for their immediate needs, but also to prevent even greater suffering.’

As a delta country, Myanmar is highly vulnerable to flooding, and has been badly hit in recent years. ‘I have seen with my own eyes how Myanmar has struggled to cope with repeated floods,’ said ministerMelanie Schultz van Haegen. ‘By deploying the Dutch Risk Reduction Team, we can help to find structural solutions to make the country more resilient to water problems.’

The Dutch Risk Disaster Team is a joint initiative by the two ministers and consists of Dutch specialists from the business community, knowledge institutions, NGOs and government, who can be deployed at short notice in cases of flooding, drought and water pollution. The DRR team focuses on reconstruction and prevention, not on emergency aid.

The offer to deploy a DRR team ties in with the ongoing partnership between the Netherlands and Myanmar in the field of water. The Dutch government has earmarked €3m for water cooperation with Myanmar between 2015 and 2017.