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  • 1. SOCIETY FOR INTEGRATED DEVELOPMENT AND SOCIAL ACTION Vill. + PO: Raidighi, dist.: 24 Paraganas(S), Sundarban Pin-743383, West Bengal, India Email: sidsaindia@gmail.com Mob: 91-9732672348 A Report: Cyclone Aila Emergency Response in the Area of Block Mathurapur-II of South 24 Paraganas, West Bengal, India, Pin-743383, October 2009 Disaster Aila at Sundarban: The destruction-Count More than 200 people are reported dead and an estimated 3 million displaced from their homes after a high velocity cyclone (120kph) hit Southern Bengal on 25th May 2009 devastating thousands of life. Worst hit areas have been the islands of Sunderban. Cyclone Aila, unleashed a four-meter high tidal surge and flooded low-lying regions overflowing the embankments washing off thousands of households completely and making a landfall in Sunderbans and coastal areas of southern West Bengal. The coastal belt and river side villages were mostly affected and destroyed due to Aila. According to the Government of West Bengal estimate about 50 Lakhs people are affected. ‘We lost every thing that mattered to us. Paddy that we cultivated last Kharif has been completely washed off. What will we depend on now? We are left with only this single saree (cloth) that we are wearing.’ This was the cry of the hour. 1
  • 2. Vast stretches of these districts looked like a reconstructed battlefield. Trees were uprooted, mud houses were flattened, and community trapped into several pockets. Sea wave gushed into land in different places and submerged paddy fields, sweet water ponds, roads completely. Even around the coastal areas Aila snapped electricity and swathe telecommunication making it completely isolated from the main land. The biggest long term loss has been of the land asset. With long stretch of guard wall collapsing due to strong tidal waves making gushing saline water enter the land encroaching sweet water areas and leaving a long term impact on that. Area visit by Sister Fanny and SIDSA authorities Other than loss of human life there has been beyond count loss of livestock making the population in further loss economically. According to the Press Trust of India (PTI), 13 districts in the state of West Bengal have been hit. However, the islands in the ecologically diverse Sunderbans delta have borne the brunt of the cyclone. Those displaced are suffering acutely due to lack of food and clean water. Mathurapur II Block, South 24 Pargana District Mathurapur II block is the facing west wards towards the river. The worst affected areas of the block were Jagannath Chak of Nandakumarpur Gram Panchayats and Maitirgheri, Singhergheri and Uttar 2
  • 3. Kumrapara villages of Kumrapara Gram Panchayet, Sipaipara, Naskarpara and Mirpara of Kankandighi GP, Srifaltala (East and West), Munda para of Raidighi GP which are on the southern fringe of the block. Apart from direct river lashing areas have also been affected due to high velocity storm. Survival strategy By evening population of the villages could come to terms about the situation and tried to move to safer places. People came to the schools and other highlands tops. Community started there own struggle against the odds. Community stretched their hands of support to each other. Those who were less affected gave space to the homeless before any support could reach and affected people could move to relief camps. People slowly started shifting to relief camps, on high road sides to find a shelter for their family. Community cooking started to provide minimum food. But the biggest concern that was arising soon was the cry for drinking water. Sanitation and hygiene condition was deteriorating fast. Humanitarian Support "There is water everywhere. We could reach aid to only 10 percent of the affected population. We could not even airdrop food packets because of the flooding," Kanti Ganguly, West Bengal state minister of Sundarbans Affairs Dept., told Reuters, as quoted in the Washington Post. In this situation, Sister Fanny Perregaux from Switzerland and ICOD extended her hands of support for the victims of Mathurapur- II Block through ‘Society for Integrated Development & Social Action (SIDSA). Society for Integrated Development and Social Action (SIDSA) being the most active and experienced NGO in this region (working since 1987) immediately started its relief activities with support from Sister Fanny Perregaux. 3
  • 4. Support of different forms like food grains, dry food, emergency medicines and drinking water were mobilized to the affected villages of Mathurapur-II. Emergency relief wing was formed along with local volunteers. Initially it was difficult to have access to the interior areas of the island villages, but subsequently those were reached. Fourteen medical camps were organised in different locations to support to the needs of 4000 cyclone and flood affected home less people. Some Community ponds were identified and dewatered for community use. Detailed report on support In a period of 15 days (June 01-June 15 2009) SIDSA reached the interiors of the four Gram Panchayats most affected in person and stood beside the affected to share their devastation. Aila Response programme with a 15 member team reached the affected villages within 4 days of the devastation and started its humanitarian relief 1st round dry food distribution program entitled ‘SIDSA Relief programme Aila Affected Sundarban Villagers’. The emergency relief program comprised of some immediate relief activity accompanied with some preventive and curative aspects for long term effect. They include the following: Relief- • Safe drinking water supply. • Dry food support for the affected people in two rounds • Milk distribution for children 4
  • 5. • Candles and matches for affected Curative- • Medical Camps for the affected people Preventive- • Mosquito Prevention Programme (Health counseling focusing on sanitation and hygiene) • Mosquito net distribution At a glance report of the support in different Gram Panchayats- 5
  • 6. Date Programmes Where No.of Beneficiaries (Family) 01st June to Safe drinking Rescue Centre at Jagannath 2000 15th June water supply Chak of Nandakumarpur GP 2009 and Maitirgheri and Singhergheri of Kumrapara GP. 01st June to 14 Medical Maitirgheri and Singher Gheri 700 7th June 2009 Camps of Kumrapara Gram ( Homoeopathy) Panchayet. for the affected people • 8 th Food Support of • Nandakumarpur • 300 June’09-1 Rice-2 Kg Musur • Kumrapara GP • 500 0th Dal-400gm.and • Raidighi • 100 June’09 Biscuit- 1 Pkd. • 100 • Kankandighi for the affected • Total people 1000 Families • 25 th – 27 th Pond • Three villages of • 450 June ‘09 Dewatering of Kumrapara families nine community ponds • 11 -13 th th Distributed • Kankandighi (3 villages) • 205 July ‘09 powdered milk • Kumrapara (4 villages) • 591 of Amul 50 • 135 • Nandakumarpur ( 1 village) gram packet per • 69 children of the • Raidighi (1 village) age 0-5 years • 14th -15th Candle and • Nandakumarpur (1 village) • 300 July ‘09 Matches • Kumrapur (2 villages) • 500 distribution for affected families • Raidighi (2 villages) • 200 • 1st of Rice • Kankandighi (3 villages) • 110 September distribution 3 • Raidighi (3 villages) • 80 ’09 kg per family • Kumrapur (4 villages) • 168 • nd 2 -3 rd of Mosquito net • Nandakumarpur (1 village) • 176 September one per family • Kankandighi (4 villages) • 191 ‘09 • Raidighi (3 villages) • 169 6 • Kumrapara (6 villages) • 464
  • 7. A. Relief 1. Safe drinking water supply- ‘Water Water every where not a single drop to drink’. In literary sense the area represented the same. People were thirsty but did not get water to drink; only a packet of water was all what the family of five head. Saline water was every where, tube wells, drinking water taps were submerged under water. Even after the water subsided after 7 days the water source program were not suitable and safe for using Safe drinking Water Supply by SIDSA as they were contaminated. Under this condition the program distributed packaged drinking water continuously for 15 days in all four areas of work. It reached 2000 beneficiaries at their homes with water everyday by the organisation. 2. Powdered Milk Distribution- Children between 0-5 year’s age were one of most affected groups in the cyclone. They had no proper hygienic nutritious food and it was not safe for them to have community food. Although children above 2 years survived on that for many days before powdered milk in small units could be supplied to them to maintain their nutrition level. Specially milking mothers were not able to milk their children at they themselves were on low nutrition. So the program to distribute powdered milk was off great support to the mothers as well as children. Total of 1000 children received packet milk support in 9 villages of 4 GPs’. 3. Dry food support 7
  • 8. Dry food like rice, dal, and biscuits were rushed to the affected villages immediately within four days of damage. Houses and all there belongings washed away in the running water. Most were only left with what they were wearing. They needed food support and so dry foods were distributed through central camps in two rounds. During first round 1000 households received this support. After every thing settled down another support of lesser 2nd round dry food distribution number 358 of families (3 Kg. rice per family) was given in worst affected area that needed further support. Name of Gram No of villages No. of family benefited Panchayet Raidighi 3 villages 80 family Kumrapara 4 villages 168 family Kankandighi 3 villages 110 family Total 3 GPs 10 villages 358 family 4. Candles and matches to affected- It was a great response shown by Sister Fanny Perregaux during her stay in the villages along with the affected. She felt for the population when she saw the households sinking into darkness at night with only a lamp (kerosene oil supported) was lighting there houses. This light neither provided much glow, more kerosene was costly and thirdly with one blow it could easily go off. She responded to the situation by giving 1000 affected family with a candle and match box (Per family one candle and one match box) Name of Gram No of villages No. of family benefited Panchayet Raidighi 2 villages 200 families 8
  • 9. Kumrapara 4 villages 500 families Nandakumarpur 1 villages 300 families Total 3 GPs 7 villages 1000 families B. Curative health care support 1. Health camps- Fourteen health camps in one GP were opened to provide immediate health support that originated as an after affect of cyclone. In 7 days it reached to 700 families on different health grounds. People felt the need for these health camps and long queue could be observed each day. Through these camps medicines were also provided to the affected people. C. Preventive health care- 1. Mosquito Prevention programme focusing on health and hygiene: Curative health alone could not be stopped the situation of malaria epidemic outbreak if population at large were not explained. During the programs, an emphasis was placed by SIDSA on acquainting affected people about their health and hygiene during the time of disaster post 9
  • 10. period. Through SHG, mother and community meetings mosquito preventive massages were addressed to the community by the organisation in four Gram Panchayet areas. 2. Distribution of mosquito nets In the second round the needs started coming in for mosquito nets as the logged water were becoming breeding grounds of mosquitoes. One net per family was distributed in 14 villages of 4 GPs’. A total of 1000 household received the nets. Need based support required in for Mathurapur II block, where work is going on are- Long term rehabilitation programme for the disaster affected people in this region needs to be planned and implemented immediately as the destruction has been both long term and short term. People are now striving for income to meet their basic needs. Major emphasis should be given on reconstruction of houses (both by grant and community participation), livelihoods and preventive health care support. SIDSA is already actively working in these areas through its various programmes like Targeting women with disabilities. A planning is to be made for building of low cost disaster resistant houses with community participation and strengthening of livelihoods programme. Issues like migration, school-dropout, child labour and abuse, trafficking etc should be kept in close vigil. 10
  • 11. Sister fanny gives boiling food to some flood Meeting with women group leaders for Beneficiary affected hunger people of Sundarban selection of mosquito net distribution Providing of dry foods to the affected Distribution of Dry foods to the affected area villagers 11