Bangladesh: Cold Wave (MDRBD012) - DREF Operation Update no 1

A total of CHF 296,678 was allocated from IFRC DREF to support the Bangladesh Red Crescent Society (BDRCS) to provide immediate assistance of 30,000 blankets distribution to 15,000 cold affected families across 21 districts. The DREF also supported additional 9,000 blankets 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). For more information, click here.

Distribution has begun with 30,000 blankets mobilized from BDRCS/IFRC joint disaster preparedness stock and BDRCS own stock. Following a call for deployment, ten national disaster response team (NDRT) members were deployed on 5 January 2013 for a week to assist BDRCS concerned units in beneficiary selection and distribution. Process for replenishment of 30,000 blankets is in progress.

The situation

Bangladesh experienced cold weather (temperature dropped to 7°C - 9°C) since mid-December 2012, affecting the poor people in particular in 22 districts (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)[1]. The average temperature recorded in the cold affected area was between 16°C - 25°C during the December and January period. The cold wave struck the northern districts of the sub-Himalayan regions of Bangladesh claiming more than 72 lives as per the assessment data of the BDRCS and local administration, mostly children due to hypothermia. Hospitals in the affected districts reported an increase in the number of admissions for cold weather-related illness, particularly children, women and the elderly. Poor and homeless people are more susceptible to the cold wave as they do not have the means to keep themselves warm.

Furthermore, the cold wave has caused crop and other natural resource losses, which will have a longer term negative impact on Bangladesh’s economy. Winter crop failures will result in greater poverty, poor dwellings, and seasonal unemployment (especially agricultural or farming sectors). According to the Disaster Management Information Centre (DMIC), the map (left) indicates the district wise distribution of minimum temperature on 26 December 2012. The lowest temperatures persist in regions of the north-west in the districts of Rajshahi, Naogaon, Nawabganj, Natore and Pabna while other districts in the north, east and south are also experiencing cold weather.

The movement of vehicle on roads and highways remain restricted as thick layers of fogs covered the air reducing the visibility. Due to this heavy fog, ferry services, port schedule and air traffic schedules are heavily disrupted. A large number of passengers are suffering extreme hardship, as trucks, buses and private cars remain stranded. Around 400 loaded trucks and 200 passenger buses were stranded on both sides of the river.

The government has allocated 30,900 blankets in 14 districts. However, the government assistance is inadequate to cover a large number of affected populations. In addition to the government distribution, several humanitarian organizations including university students, business community, local NGOs have responded to the cold wave with warm clothes in rural and urban poor.