Bangladesh: Cold wave (MDRBD012) - DREF Operation

CHF 296,678 has been allocated from the IFRC’s DREF on 3 January 2012 to replenish 30,000 blankets of which the Bangladesh Red Crescent Society (BDRCS) delivered for immediate assistance to 75,000 cold-affected beneficiaries (15,000 families) in 21 districts in Bangladesh. The DREF also funded for an additional 9,000 blankets for preparedness supplies. Un-earmarked funds to replenish the DREF are encouraged.

Summary: A cold wave has struck the northern districts of the sub-Himalayan regions of Bangladesh claiming more than 72 lives as per the assessment data of BDRCS and local administration, mostly children due to hypothermia. According to the Disaster Management Information Centre on 26 December 2012, around 22 districts have been affected by the cold wave, notably the districts of Panchagarh, Thakurgaon, Dinajpur, Nilphamary, Lalmonirhat, Rangpur, Kurigram, Gaibandha, Bogra, Joypurhat, Naogaon, Nawabganj, Rajshahi, Natore, Sirajganj, Pabna, Mymensing in the north, Moulvibazar in the east and certain districts in the south, namely Kushtia, Jessore, Faridpur and Madaripur. According to the BDRCS concerned units, people living in open and public spaces like bus and railway stations, and daily labourers and slum dwellers are most vulnerable to cold wave as they cannot afford warm clothes. As per the reports received from various units, more than 50 per cent of population in the district is affected by the cold wave.

The number of pneumonia and diarrhoeal patients, mostly older population and children, continues to increase due to the sweeping bone-chilling cold wave in the sub-Himalayan regions in the past week. The extreme cold and the lack of sunlight is expected to hamper the natural growth of crops, including Boro (winter rice variety) seedlings. Failure of cash crops may result in unemployment of agro-labour and investment of share croppers and induce poverty of marginal farmers.

Based on the three-month forecast (December 2012 to February 2013) from Bangladesh Meteorological Department (BMD), the weather condition in January 2013 will be experiencing moderate/severe cold waves (6°C - 8°C/ 4°C - 6°C) in the northern, north-eastern and central parts of the country and mild/moderate cold waves (8°C - 10°C/ 6°C - 8°C) in other parts of the country are likely to sweep across. BMD also predicted one mild cold waves (8°C - 10°C/ 6°C - 8°C) is likely to sweep across the northern and central parts of the country during early February 2013. (For more details, refer to http://www.bmd.gov.bd/Content.php?MenuId=39&SubMenuId=60&SubSubMenuId=54)

According to the Disaster Management Information Centre (DMIC), on 26 December 2012 the Government of Bangladesh allocated 30,900 blankets for 14 districts. In addition to that, the government has allocated 240,00 blankets for 64 districts (entire country), which will be released in installments for distribution. The Ministry of Food and Disaster Management is expected to distribute more warm clothes in the coming weeks. Furthermore, some non-governmental organizations (NGOs) like Muslim Aid and Action Aid Bangladesh will distribute 20,000 blankets across the country.

While BDRCS dispatched and distributed 30,000 blankets (20,000 from BDRCS own stock and 10,000 from IFRC and BDRCS joint disaster preparedness stock) for 15,000 severely affected families or 75,000 people. The procurement and distribution of the relief packages are in progress to the affected district units. A further 9,000 blankets is allocated under the DREF as preparedness stock.

This operation is expected to be implemented for three months, and will therefore be completed by 4 April 2013. A Final Report will be made available three months after the end of the operation (by 4 July 2013).