Climate change doesn’t always mean extreme events that leave behind mass destruction and chaos, it isn’t always loud, . Often it’s slow and spookily quiet. This is true for the people of Pakokku, in the dry zone of Myanmar. The land is flat, hot and dry and extremely vulnerable, climate change aggravates these already extreme conditions. People from areas along the river experience flooding and are often forced to leave their homes and take refuge in the local town monastery. Further inland, the region is experiencing chronic water problems, with struggles to continue traditional farming such as growing rice paddy.
Myanmar Climate Change Alliance has conducted studies on the current vulnerabilities and projections reveal that temperatures may increase up to maximum 2.7 degrees by 2050 with up to 4-17 hot days per month in the summer season compared to one hot day per month defined historically.
With a loss of traditional livelihoods, many (mostly men) have had to migrate to cities or to neighbouring Thailand in search of work, which makes Pakokku more vulnerable for lack of skilled human resources in the townships, leaving women led households without alternative sources of income
As part of activities to support alternative livelihoods in Pakokku, Myanmar Climate Change Alliance is funding a sewing project for women who have lost their homes or crops in the floods, or may be the most vulnerable to climate change effects. This activity has been identified as part of a social sustainability plan that helps communities cope with changed livelihoods in order to leave no one behind.
The rainy season is shorter in length and flash flooding is more intense. As a result villages are accustomed to rebuilding their homes more regularly when they are destroyed by the sweeping floods or intense rainfall and storm. Another local level of intervention under the Myanmar Climate Change Alliance is the training of local carpenters to build climate and disaster resilient housing using traditional materials from the area with new design features, such as raising the plinth height to reduce flood impact or four sided tapered roof to avoid roofs blowing away in storms. The new features make houses more resilient to the changes in climate such as a more intense monsoon season and hot season.