A top official at the post-tsunami reconstruction agency in Aceh and Nias has been assigned to assist in the rebuilding of cyclone-devastated Myanmar, the Foreign Ministry announced Friday.

William Sabandar, Nias regional director at the Rehabilitation and Reconstruction Agency (BRR), was named the chief technical adviser to formulate the Post-Nargis Recovery and Preparedness Plan, ministry spokesman Teuku Faizasyah told reporters.

Cyclone Nargis struck Myanmar in early May this year, killing more than 170,000 people and affecting 2.4 million others living in the Irrawady delta, the region’s main rice-growing area.

Following the disaster, a tripartite core group was established comprising high-level representatives from the Myanmar government, the UN and ASEAN.

“I will be reporting to the ASEAN secretary-general,” William said Friday after the launch of the latest BRR Nias report.

He added he would only be able to work “with the support of the leadership” of the BRR and ASEAN.

Having returned recently from a trip to Myanmar, William said refugees there had gone back to the hardest hit areas of the Irrawaddy, but he noted aid commitments were slow in coming, compared to those following the 2004 earthquake and tsunami in Indonesia and other Indian Ocean countries.

Those affected by Nargis, mostly poor even before the cyclone, now live in their own homes, William said, though some still lived in tents.

The relief operation immediately after the disaster was “a success”, he said, with the World Health Organization gaining access to critical areas and preventing several feared infectious outbreaks.

“We’re now entering the reconstruction phase (in the cyclone-ravaged areas),” William said.

According to the UN’s relief agency, a recovery plan involving the international community is needed to “complement” Myanmar’s recovery and reconstruction efforts. The UN and its partners will develop medium-term recovery plans for 2009-2011, says the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs.

The parties will cooperate in disaster risk reduction, education, health, livelihood (agriculture and non-agriculture), shelter and water, and sanitation, according to the agency’s website, www.reliefweb.int.

The plan is scheduled to be presented at the ASEAN-UN summit, planned for mid-December. (Source: The Jakarta Post, 7 December 2008)

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