Inter-agency Review of the Myanmar Protection of Children and Women Cluster Response to Cyclone Nargis

Cyclone Nargis hit Myanmar at an unprecedented scale on May 3rd and 4th 2008. Early Assessments indicated that approximately 132,793 children were affected by the cyclone and that the majority of the deaths occurring were women and children (60 -70%). There was also a considerable degree of concern for children and women who survived, some having lost families and loved ones and many having lost shelter, livelihoods and other basic necessities. Specific concerns for children also included an increase in the number of children from affected communities being placed in institutional care.

At the onset of the crisis the cluster system of humanitarian coordination was activated. Given political sensitivities, an agency decision was taken by UNHCR not to lead the cluster and to instead initiate a Protection of Women and Children Cluster (PCWC) with co-chair Save the Children. The cluster also initiated two technical working groups at a Yangon level, a Child Protection in Emergencies Technical Working Group, chaired by UNICEF and a Women’s Protection Working Group, chaired by UNFPA.

The child protection and protection of women response under the cluster approach provided an important learning opportunity.  Myanmar is the only clusterized country that has formally endorsed a child and women’s protection cluster, as opposed to Protection Cluster which provides an important learning opportunity for the Areas of Responsibilities and the Protection Cluster as a whole.  The PWC has played a crucial role in the Cyclone Nargis response in co-ordinating the response, managing information, representing the cluster and advocating on key issues for children and women within the humanitarian community and with Government. 

Published 2018-07-27