Photo: Thang Khan SIAN KHAI/ICRC

Myanmar: Displaced families find safe space in new sustainable homes

Article 09 August 2023 Myanmar

Once a joyful and beautiful place where children played and families enjoyed normal days, surrounded by lush nature, traditional homes, livestock and farms, many areas of Kachin State in Myanmar have now become silent and empty spaces scarred by armed conflict. The people in Kachin had not anticipated they would be forced to leave their homes and seek shelter in internally displaced camps. Yet over 100,000 people have been displaced for more than ten years in the state.

The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) in Kachin is dedicated to helping communities who have faced trauma, lost their livelihoods and lived in cramped temporary shelters as they fled violence. We work to address their urgent needs, improve their living conditions and relieve their suffering.

In late 2022, the ICRC constructed 63 homes for families who relocated to Hka Garan Yang village in Sumprabum township and the Sadung Na Sar resettlement site in Waingmaw township. Our goal was that the families move to a new location where they can live safely and sustainably.

We started our work by helping the families register their land ownership and then built adequately spacious homes equipped with bathrooms and private toilets. We also installed solar power systems in every home for cost-effective and sustainable electricity supply and set up a small-scale gravity water system to provide them with clean water.

There's a saying that reflects our experience – 'It's always darkest before dawn'. We faced many harsh challenges before relocating here. But now we have a durable home with a kitchen, solar lighting, fresh water supply and a toilet. Things are better now.

Mrs. Lahpai Ja Ring
whose family moved into a new home as part of the ICRC's resettlement project.

She adds that since they have a safe space to live, they can better utilize their potential and pursue their dreams.

Even though they have relocated to a new environment, the families have quickly adapted and settled in. Our teams have also provided them with support to improve their livelihood activities such as rearing livestock and farming.

"We have seen how happy and satisfied the families are since they have moved into their new space. We also helped them transition out of their previous status as internally displaced people and reintegrate into a more normal life," said Guillaume Binet, an ICRC staff member in Kachin State. Binet adds, "we also plan to build a primary school at the Sadung Na Sar resettlement site."

As conflict continues and the challenges multiply, our teams remain committed to helping communities across Kachin State overcome the difficulties.

Every family deserves to have a home to call their own.

In two townships of Myanmar’s northernmost state, we help 63 families to take their first steps towards rebuilding their lives. Watch the video to hear their stories.