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Cyclone Aila victims still in need

Relief workers distributing food and drinking water at Koira sub-district, southern Bangladesh. 190 people were killed and more than 3.9 million people were affected by Cyclone Aila, which struck the country on 25 May 2009
(AO/IRIN)

More than a month after Cyclone Aila battered southern Bangladesh, hundreds of thousands of people are still unable to return to their homes, and the government and aid agencies are struggling to provide basic relief.



“As of 2 July, 350,000 people were still living in makeshift shelters in open fields, schools, embankments and cyclone centres,” Muhammad Badi Akhter, a programme manager for Oxfam, told IRIN.



“The cyclone destroyed our home. Even if I return to my village, I don’t know how I will survive. My family lost everything to the cyclone,” Marium Begum, a resident of Koira sub-district, told IRIN.



Damaged sanitation systems and lack of access to drinking water are the main problems in the most severely affected areas, say experts.



According to Bangladesh’s Disaster Management Bureau (DMB), 500,000-750,000 people are in need of water and sanitation support.



“All the ponds and tube wells are full of sea water. If it were not for the water supplied by relief workers, we would surely have died,” Rahmat Ghazi, a 49-year-old farmer from the Dacope area of Khulna District, said.



International aid agencies CARE, Oxfam, Save the Children USA and the government’s Department of Public Health and Engineering (DPHE) are currently providing water purification services in flood-affected regions.












An estimated 25 percent of the country's nearly 10,000 km of embankments were damaged when Cyclone Sidr slammed into Bangladesh's southwestern coastal belt on 15 November, killing over 3,000 and leaving millions homeless.

David Swanson/IRIN
An estimated 25 percent of the country's nearly 10,000 km of embankments were damaged when Cyclone Sidr slammed into Bangladesh's southwestern coastal belt on 15 November, killing over 3,000 and leaving millions homeless...
http://www.irinnews.org/photo
Friday, December 7, 2007
Les remblais abîmés par le cyclone à réparer d’urgence
An estimated 25 percent of the country's nearly 10,000 km of embankments were damaged when Cyclone Sidr slammed into Bangladesh's southwestern coastal belt on 15 November, killing over 3,000 and leaving millions homeless...


Photo: David Swanson/IRIN
Over 1,700 km of earthen embankment were damaged by the cyclone. Such embankments provide a first line of defence for coastal communities in the area

Embankments



Aila damaged over 1,700km of flood embankments and left large parts of the southern coastal region inundated with sea water. More than 320,000 acres of cropland were flattened and over 150,000 livestock lost, according to DMB.



“The biggest threat to these people is the washed out embankments,” Mohammad Abul Quasem of the Bangladesh Red Crescent Society (BDRCS) said, referring to the intricate network of earth embankments protecting local communities.



“Villages already swamped by sea water are further threatened by the monsoon. With the rain, water levels of the rivers are sure to rise. There is little chance these people will be able to start reorganizing their lives until the water recedes,” he warned.



Government response



On 3 June the government moved to help around 176,000 Aila-hit farmers.



To ensure farmers do not miss out on this year’s monsoon planting season, which begins now, fertilizers and rice seeds will be distributed in 75 sub-districts in 12 of the Aila-affected districts.



Initially, each farmer will receive 5kg of paddy seed and 35kg of urea and phosphate fertilizers. Later, during the winter farming season, they will get more seeds and fertilizers. The project will cost around US$5.5 million.



"We want to restore farmers’ confidence by providing them with seeds and fertilizers,” Agriculture Minister Begum Matia Chowdhury said, adding: “We also want to prove that the government is conscious of its responsibility to the affected people.”



Cyclone Aila struck coastal Bangladesh on 25 May, killing 190 people, injuring more than 7,000, and affecting more than 3.9 million. More than 600,000 thatched houses in 11 of the country’s 64 districts were damaged or destroyed, the DMB reported.



oa/ds/cb



This article was produced by IRIN News while it was part of the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs. Please send queries on copyright or liability to the UN. For more information: https://shop.un.org/rights-permissions

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