Saturday, May 02, 2009

Burma: Changing salty land to paddy growing fields

Source: Kaladan Press Network Please visit and show your support and appreciation

The World Food Program (WFP) of the United Nations is attempting to change salty stretches to paddy growing fields for the benefit of villagers in Maungdaw Township since April 20, said a local trader on condition of anonymity.

There are about 1,000 acres of salty land in Sara Auk Village of Maungdaw Township where paddy cannot be grown. As a result, the WFP has taken the initiative to change this land to paddy growing land. WFP with the help of nearby villagers is building a dam around the land to stop saline water coming in.

Every day, about 200 to 250 villagers go to the work site to build the dam around the land. Villagers estimate that it will be take at least 15 days to complete the dam.

If the project is completed successfully, WFP will provide about 1,200 rice bags (50 kg bag) to the villagers who are participating in the dam building.

If the project succeeds, many villagers will benefit from the land, said a local schoolteacher.

However, on April 28, a group of soldiers, who are erecting fencing on the Burma-Bangladesh border, came to the work site while the villagers were working and took away all 200 villagers to work in their project for erecting fences in the border area.

After working the whole day at the army work site, the villagers were released with a payment of Kyat 6,000 only. The daily labour wage is Kyat 2,000 in the open market. So, villagers should have got Kyat 400,000 from the army. But, one villager received Kyat 30 for a day. Kyat 30 is nothing in Burma, because a cup of tea costs over Kyat 100, said a villager who was among the forced labour.

A village elder said, “There are many other villagers, if the army wanted labourers. Why do they take away villagers who are working on the dam? It is intentional harassment of the WFP authority.
Published by Mike Hitchen, Mike Hitchen Consulting
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