India: Orissa Cyclone Appeal No. 28/1999 Final Report


This Final Report is intended for reporting on emergency appeals
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Appeal No. 28/1999; Launched on: 1 November 1999 for three months for CHF 4.3million to assist 50,000 beneficiaries. After the initial relief phase, the budget was revised to CHF 7.2 million and the rehabilitation operation extended until 31 December 2001

Disaster Relief Emergency Fund (DREF) Allocated: CHF 200,000

IN BRIEF

Appeal coverage: Covered

Related Appeals : South Asia regional programmes (01.24/2002)

In Summary: donors responded well to the operation and significant relief and rehabilitation was provided to those communities in need. The surplus funds generated from the operation in 1999 had partly been reallocated to the Orissa floods operation in 2001, while the remaining positive balance of CHF 241,346 was distributed between India disaster preparedness and response programme and South Asia regional programmes.

The context

A violent cyclone hit India's eastern coast on Friday, 29 October 1999. Winds of up to 260 kph (155 mph) raged for over 36 hours. The winds caused a 7 metre tidal wave that swept more than 20 km inland and brought massive destruction and death to a number of coastal districts in the state of Orissa. It is estimated that more than 10 million people in 12 coastal belt districts were affected by the cyclone. More than 10,000 people lost their lives.

Homes were flattened, trees uprooted, infrastructure destroyed, livestock killed or drowned, paddy fields submerged and tens of thousands of families from the most affected coastal districts of Balasore, Bhadrak, Kendrapara, Jagatsinghpur, Puri and Ganjam were forced to evacuate their homes. More than 44,500 people found refuge in the 23 Red Cross cyclone shelters which were built as part of a long term bilateral disaster mitigation programme supported by German Red Cross.

The Indian Red Cross Society (IRCS) responded immediately with an emergency relief operation. With the support of the Federation, the Orissa state branch extended the emergency relief phase to a three-month relief operation and a six-month rehabilitation programme was then initiated as a result of which the planned time frame for the overall humanitarian response reached well into the late year 2000.

During the summer of 2001, the state was affected by drought followed by heavy rain during the monsoon months leading to flash floods in many areas. The state Red Cross response to the floods was prompt and the Federation launched a request for assistance (see separate appeal no 21/01: India Floods that was launched to target 156,000 beneficiaries in Orissa and Bihar State). The money remaining from the cyclone rehabilitation programme was then channelled to the big flood operation that included supply of food and non food relief and health programme.

The scale of the rehabilitation programme and even more so the difficult environment resulted in a further extension of the operation until 31 December 2001. The selection of areas were so remote that though it fitted very well with reaching the most vulnerable, it made it difficult to implement the operation in time. The delay was caused by incessant monsoon rain, acute shortage of masons and slow repairs of damaged roads.

Red Cross/Red Crescent action

Upon initial assessment carried out by the Orissa State Branch of the Indian Red Cross in October/November 1999, the emergency buffer stocks were immediately shipped out by the Indian Red Cross headquarters in New Delhi, from their zonal warehouse in Calcutta as well as by the Orissa State Branch. Throughout the entire 36-hour cyclone, the German Red Cross delegate was staying in Orissa and working together with the Indian Red Cross Orissa State Branch on the initial planning of the relief response.

The Federation followed with the release of CHF 200,000 from its Disaster Relief Emergency Fund (DREF) for the operation and with the Preliminary Appeal No.28/99, launched on 1 November 1999. The Indian Government, however, officially decided against an appeal to the international community and did not declare the Orissa cyclone a national disaster. Therefore, the Preliminary Appeal remained the sole reference on which the Indian Red Cross and its Orissa State Branch based its later relief operation.

The operation was divided into the following phases:

1. Phase one: distributions of relief (buffer stocks) immediately after the cyclone

2. Phase two: The Preliminary Appeal which sought CHF 4,300,000 for the relief operation. The relief assistance was completed on 31 January 2000.

3. Phase three: A new Plan of Action was produced and presented in February 2000, initially estimated to last 3 months, giving ground to further assistance within the rehabilitation phase of the operation with additional funds which were sought by the revised budget of CHF 7.2 million.

However due to the delayed housing project the time frame was extended to six months and at a later stage prolonged until 31 December 2001, without budgetary implications. Continued monsoon rains and as a result difficult road conditions created a lack of willingness of construction companies to take on work in this remote area.

The Relief Operation

The relief operation lasted for three months, from 1 November 1999 to 31 January 2000. The Indian Red Cross Plan of Action dated 15 November 1999 and covering phase two, was worked out on the basis of the assessment carried out on 1 November 1999 by the joint Indian Red Cross/Federation team and the initial response to the Preliminary Appeal. According to these early assessments, the most acutely needed supplies were:

  • shelter material i.e. tarpaulins and plastic sheeting;
  • food items;
  • medicines and water purification tablets;
  • non-food items; blankets, clothing & kitchen sets.

Thus, the main Red Cross objectives were to:
  • provide emergency food rations to 50,000 families;
  • provide 25,000 families with basic shelter;
  • provide 50,000 families with blankets;
  • provide 100,000 adults with clothing;
  • provide 10,000 most affected families with kitchen utensils;
  • rehabilitate 150 tube wells in affected villages;
  • prepare in case of the outbreak of an epidemic.

As additional information was coming in from the field, the Orissa State Branch started to adjust the needs and objectives accordingly. In line with the re-assessed needs and objectives, by the end of the relief operation on 31 January 2000, the Orissa State Branch distributed to 50,000 families (average 5 member families) for three months in the following districts: Balasore, Bhadrak, Kendrapara, Jagatsinghpur, Puri, Ganjam. The items provided were the following:
  • Food items: 3,100 metric tonnes (MT);
  • blankets: 100,000 pieces;
  • kitchen sets: 4,800 sets;*
  • clothing: 100,000 pcs;
  • plastic sheeting: 4,800 pcs;*
  • medicines: 2 million water purification tablets;
  • 750 kg of bleaching powder.

* It was established during the assessment that the requirements were not as high as the Government and some NGOs believed in the early stages of the overall operation.

Beneficiaries

Although the super cyclone put literally the whole population of the coastal belt in a position of the most-affected and most vulnerable, the Orissa State Branch of the Indian Red Cross focused on the area in the vicinity of 23 Red Cross cyclone shelters in the districts of Balasore, Bhadrak, Kendrapara, Jagatsinghpur, Puri and Ganjam.

Every cyclone shelter covers 10 to 12 villages which form a Gram Panchayat (GP) i.e. a group of villages with 1200 to 1700 families. In that way, 23 shelters actually cover 23 GPs. To this number, the Orissa State Branch added 15 GPs outside the Red Cross shelter scheme (away from the main roads and cyclone shelters) but equally affected by the super cyclone. In total, the Orissa State Branch directed their activities towards 38 GPs. Within these 38 GPs, the Orissa State Branch identified 50,000 families in the most affected villages, who lost 75% to 100% of their crops, livestock and homes and were in a dire need of food, clothes and shelter.

The beneficiary lists were prepared by the Orissa State Branch in collaboration with the government appointed Block Development Officer (one Blocks equals 20 to 35 GPs) and a special relief officer appointed by the local community i.e. GP.

Procurement

All the procurements were carried out in India by the Indian Red Cross in collaboration with the Federation. Standard Federation procedures were applied to all procurements including minimum 3 quotations except for procurement (rice, dal, oil) which IRCS national headquarters decided to make from the government co-operatives, e.g. the Food Corporation of India (FCI) and National Agricultural Cooperative Marketing Federation of India (NAFED), which have a controlled rate.

Non-food items like blankets, plastic sheeting, kitchen sets and clothing were procured by the IRCS national headquarters in New Delhi.

Transportation

The commodities purchased in New Delhi were transported by truck to Orissa and, prior to distribution, stored in the Red Cross warehouse building within the Red Cross compound. Local transportation was hired (on the basis of 3 quotations) and used for the transport of relief items from Bhubaneswar to the distribution centres.

Storage

The IRCS relief distributions were carried out systematically and warehousing expenditures were literally non-existent. As earlier mentioned, the procurement was made locally from government agencies which distributed food supplies directly from their warehouses to the affected districts.

Distribution

Each family was issued a distribution card. All distribution lists were signed or a thumb print impression applied as confirmation of receipt of the relief items. Each distribution was followed up by a monitoring visit. The ration per family consisted of the following:

  • food: 50 kg of rice, 10 kg of dal (lentils), 2 litres of cooking oil;
  • kitchen sets for 10,000 most affected families: one bucket, one dekchy (long-handled large spoon), one frying pan, two spoons, three plates;
  • clothing sets for all 50,000 families: One sari, one dhoti (clothing for men);
  • blankets for all 50,000 registered families: Two blankets per family.

Distributions per geographical location:
District
Block
GP
No. of villages
Benefic. families
Food MT
Blankets
Kitchen sets
Clothes
Kendrapada
19,315 families in all
Rajnagar Rangani
11
1,273
78.9
2,546

2,546
Gupti
10
1,197
74.2
2,394

2,394
Brahmansahi
13
1,057
65.5
2,114

2,114
Dera
9
1,100
68.2
2,200

2,200
Satabhaya
2
611
37.8
1,222

1,222
Kojlipur
13
1,500
93.0
3,000
300
3,000
Mohakalpada Kharanisi
3
1,414
87.7
2,828

2,828
Jamboo
4
1,300
80.6
2,600
400
2,600
Batighar
8
1,405
87.1
2,810
300
2,810
Suniti
5
1,202
74.5
2,404
400
2,404
Barakanda
7
1,210
75.0
2,420
400
2,420
Ramnagar
6
1,455
90.2
2,910

2,910
Mangalpur
9
1,602
99.3
3,204

3,204
Gagua
10
1,500
93.0
3,000

3,000
Badi
10
1,400
86.8
2,800

2,800
Puri
8,010 families in all
Kakatpur Bangurigaon
7
1,070
66.3
2,140

2,140
Astaranga Nagar
10
1,295
80.3
2,590
380
2,590
Nuagarh
6
1,380
85.6
2,760
375
2,760
Alasahi
6
1,500
93.0
3,000

3,000
Sisua
13
1,300
80.6
2,600

2,600
Chhuriana
9
1,465
90.8
2,930

2,930
Jagatsinghpur
8,661 families in all
Erasama Kunjakothi
8
1,251
77.6
2,502
625
2,502
Padmapur
5
1,250
77.5
2,500
600
2,500
Nuagoon
6
1,010
62.6
2,020

2,020
Goda
13
1,707
105.8
3,414

3,414
G.Harishpur
3
1,366
84.7
2,732
500
2,732
Balikuda Naharana
12
1,760
109.1
3,520
520
3,520
Baramundali
6
1,500
93.0
3,000

3,000
Balesore
1,250 families in all
Bahanaga Kharasahapur
11
1,250
77.5
2,500

2,500
Bhadrak
8,984 families in all
Basudevpur Adhuan
13
1,403
87.0
2,806

2,806
Eram
4
1,090
67.6
2,180

2,180
Bideipur
5
1,140
70.7
2,280

2,280
Chandabali Charadiha
7
1,518
94.1
3,036

3,036
Orasahi
12
1,320
81.8
2,640

2,640
Bijaynagar
7
1,330
82.5
2,660

2,660
Nalagohira
10
1,150
71.3
2,300

2,300
Ganjam
2,202 families in all
Chikiti Sonapur
5
1,200
74.4
2,400

2,400
Gokharkuda Pallibandha
12
1,519
94.2
3,038

3,038
Grand Total
310
50,000
3,100
100,000
4,800
100,000

The distributions were carried out by the Orissa State Branch of the Indian Red Cross and the network of Disaster Preparedness Committees and Task Force teams through distribution centres located at cyclone shelters.

After the disaster, the cyclone shelters actually became the relief assistance focal points for local communities living in their vicinity.

The Delegation

The responsibility for the transfer of funds to and liaising with the Indian Red Cross NHQ was with the Regional Delegation for South Asia in New Delhi.

On 1 November 1999, the Regional Information Delegate was sent from New Delhi to Bhubaneswar in order to support the Orissa Red Cross Branch, assess the situation, liaise with other NGOs and, through the Regional Delegation, report to the Federation Secretariat. In addition, a Disaster Preparedness Delegate was sent in from Bangladesh to assist in the assessment efforts.

At the same time, the Head of Regional Delegation accompanied by the Joint Secretary of the Indian Red Cross visited the State of Orissa.

In early-November 1999, a health situation assessment was carried out by a medical doctor provided by the German Red Cross for this purpose. By the same time, a Senior Relief Coordinator was attached to the Orissa State Branch and he assisted the Branch during the entire relief operation. Three short-term logistics delegates, two from the British Red Cross and one from the Spanish Red Cross, assisted the Federation Senior Relief Co-ordinator during the relief operation.

Participation of Operating National Society

The Orissa State Branch of the Indian Red Cross was fully in charge of the operation while the Federation only assisted in the implementation of their Plan of Action.

While the Federation Relief Co-ordinator was more engaged in the co-ordination and monitoring activities, the Orissa State Branch organised the distributions and selected the beneficiaries. Both parties together carried out the financial and operational management and field monitoring.

As part of the bilateral German Red Cross supported "Orissa Disaster Management Programme" (ODMP), the Orissa State Branch has long been actively engaged in disaster preparedness and management activities through Disaster Preparedness Committees (DPC) and Task Force (TF) teams attached to the 23 Red Cross cyclone shelters built in the coastal local communities.

DPC and TF members were trained in rescue skills, leadership skills, First Aid and DP/DM and were the core human resources mobilised during the cyclone as well as during the selection of beneficiaries and distribution of relief items to the beneficiary families after the cyclone.

Co-operation with Authorities and with Other Agencies

Government: The Government maintained the overall responsibility for the relief operation through the Ministry of Agriculture as its nodal agency for natural disaster management. A natural disaster management control room was established in Bhubaneswar in order to assess and coordinate the relief operation.

During their stay in Orissa, representatives of the Regional Delegation and the Indian Red Cross met with the Orissa State Relief Commissioner and the Governor of Orissa.

The Indian Red Cross, as an institution with long tradition, has well-established relations with the Government of Orissa. These relations proved beneficial on several occasions during the relief operation, including preferential prices for rice purchased for the victims of Orissa cyclone from the government-controlled Food Corporation of India (FCI) and National Agricultural Federation of India (NAFED) .

At the same time, UNICEF, Bhubaneswar, took the lead role for the UN family and international agencies and NGOs working in Orissa. Co-ordination meetings were held, initially twice a day and later once a day during the relief phase.

Representatives of Care, Lutheran World Federation, Oxfam, Action-Aid, Concern, SCF, MSF and others participated in these meetings. The Indian Red Cross also participated in and contributed to these meetings. In addition, a representative of the Government of Orissa, including, on one occasion, the Chief Minister, took part in these meetings.

Office Improvements: During the relief phase, additional equipment was bought for the Orissa State Branch/Federation office. Two computers plus accounting software, office furniture and two field vehicles represent a valuable addition to the branch assets.

Rehabilitation phase of the operation

After the successful implementation of Phase 1 of sheltering 44,500 people in Red Cross built and managed cyclone shelters, dispensing emergency food, shelter material and providing medical care in the early days after the cyclone, Phase 2 of the RC operation started. It consisted of provision of food and non-food items to the communities in the most affected areas. 50,000 families received food, clothes and blankets, and by the end of January 2000 the relief phase was completed. The Government and humanitarian agencies developed rehabilitation programmes in a shift towards longer term assistance to the victims of the cyclone.

Following the completion of Phase 1 & Phase 2 of the emergency operation, an assessment for the next phase was conducted by team of experts from Orissa. The team consisted of 2 social workers, 1 construction engineer, 1 agricultural engineer and 1 Wat/San engineer. The team was given a clear mandate and terms of reference to identify remaining needs according to the overall objectives, utilising a community participatory approach. Districts meetings were held in which needs were discussed and final recommendations developed.

The RC plan of action for the next phase was agreed with the IRCS, and fully co-ordinated with all other agencies and the State and National Government in order to ensure no duplication of efforts, both sectorally and geographically. The aim was to work primarily in three severely affected districts:

- Jagatsinghpur (the most heavily affected district)
- Kendrapara
- Puri

Work was, however, also carried out in two other districts of Cuttack and Ganjam. These cover ten Cyclone Shelter sites and their associated villages located at: Khurantathua, Padmapur, Dhanuarbelari, Nuraghar, Nagar, Jamboo, Barakolilhala, Benakandhra and Sarumuhin. The specific objectives were:

  • to provide seeds/seedlings, fertilisers, tools and livestock support to the most vulnerable 1,000 families in the targeted area;
  • to renovate and upgrade the Red Cross Maternity Hospital (Ganjam);
  • to renovate and upgrade the Red Cross Blood Bank (Cuttack);
  • to provide educational materials to 300 primary schools in the targeted area;
  • to install 135 shallow tube wells in the targeted area;
  • to provide supplementary food for 5,000 of the most vulnerable families in the targeted area for three months;
  • to provide mosquito nets to 20,000 families in the coastal belt;
  • to strengthen the capacity of the Orissa Red Cross State Branch in Disaster Preparedness and Disaster Management.

The needs assessment process was ongoing throughout the implementation of the operation; this resulted in two additional objectives to be included into the original Rehabilitation Plan of Action;
  • procurement of medicaments and medical equipment for the reconstructed or renovated Red Cross medical facilities;
  • minor renovation of the Orissa State Branch headquarters.

Initial rehabilitation activities

The following activities were the first to be implemented successfully:

  • distribution of supplementary food to 9,468 beneficiaries for three months. The food consisted of rice, dal (lentils) and cooking oil;
  • distribution of 20,000 mosquito nets in the coastal belt areas which are exposed to mosquitos and have high rates of malaria and filacriasis cases. Approximately 100,000 individuals benefited from them;
  • distribution of educational kits to 300 primary schools. More than 44,000 beneficiaries were provided with basic educational materials such as cupboards, low desks, black boards, pencils, plastic chairs for teachers, school bags and notebooks. For many pupils and teachers who were still working under canvas tents the assistance was a welcome relief;
  • distribution of medical equipment and medicines to five Red Cross medical facilities;
  • distribution of 1000 agricultural kits;
  • construction of 135 tube wells. The wells were installed in 57 villages enabling safe-water supply to approximately 27,000 beneficiaries;
  • rehabilitation of the Tikarapanga dispensary
  • support to 56 self-help groups (SHGs) through financial assistance and training
  • strengthening of Orissa state branch through two disaster preparedness workshops. The first one was for the field staff/volunteers and the second for senior staff and the Disaster Preparedness Committee members; both focusing on field experiences and lessons learned. 37 individuals participated in the two workshops. As a result, the State Branch has undertook a programme to strengthen its district branches;
  • creation of buffer stocks
  • rehabilitation of the Orissa state branch headquarters. The renovation included the rehabilitation of the access road to the main building and warehouses enabling easy access for storage and distribution of RC relief items. In addition to this, one room and one toilet were repaired in one of the buildings belonging to the Orissa state branch (OSB) complex;

Reconstruction/renovation of Hospitals/ Red Cross Dispensaries

In November 2000, the Hospital for Women & Children at Bherhampur and the Central Red Cross Blood Bank were renovated, which are both operational now.

The Hospital for Women and Children has a facility for neo-natal treatment, while the Red Cross Blood Bank at Cuttack is a major institution of the Orissa State Branch, contributing more than 20,000 units of blood annually, the highest for any Blood Bank in Orissa. In addition to the reconstruction of these two facilities, medical equipment and medicaments were provided.

The renovated dispensary at Panchutikiri in Bhadrak district was managed by the medical officer of the local Red Cross by January 2001. The dispensary in Asan was also completed and handed over to the local Red Cross authorities in March 2001. Similarly, the renovation of the third dispensary building at Tikarapanga in Kendrapara District was completed.

Building materials for cyclone resistant / low cost housing

The plan entailed 367 low cost houses to be constructed and the task was given to the different agencies indicated below. Thirty five houses remained incomplete during the autumn 2001, but as seven families had actually moved from the Khurantatutha - 22 villages (point no 5 in the table below) only 28 houses in the Siali district were left to be completed. End of November 2001, all the remaining houses to be constructed were completed. The Orissa State Branch decided to finalise this project themselves by deputing a constructing engineer, arranging the required material from different sources and finalising the houses with the help of villagers.

No.
Village
Agency to work has been entrusted
Present status
1
Siali Building Centre, Jagatsinghpur 63 - all completed
2
Siali Aroopa Mission 15 - all completed
3
Balipatna AWARE 55 - all completed
4
Khurantatutha-21 AWARE 63 - all completed
5
Khurantatutha-22 Vikash 26 - all completed
6
Khurantatutha-22 AWARE 52 completed, 7 dropped
7
Kankardia AWARE 36 - all completed
8
Taraipatapur District Branch, Ganjam 50- all completed
Total:
360 completed, 7 dropped

The implementation time frame for the rehabilitation phase of the Orissa Cyclone operation was extended until 31 December 2001.

Road conditions did not improve although the government had committed to undertake repairs of damaged roads in the coastal belt. Hence all the roads approaching the construction area remained damaged throughout the period. The slow progress and delays in the construction of roads seriously affected transportation of materials and recruitment of masons and skilled labourers. The disastrous floods that happened in July 2001 further delayed the project for more than two months.

However, a monitoring visit by the Regional Disaster Relief Delegate to the region at the end of November 2001, evidenced that the remaining eight Red Cross built houses were completed. All materials had arrived at field level in spite of the difficult access. Generally, there were many incomplete houses still to be seen as other NGOs had faced the same logistical problems. The Disaster Relief Delegate found that the quality of the Red Cross built houses was adequate and they were reasonably priced compared to other organisations.

The method to reach the remote and flooded areas was by using trucks as far as possible, then reloading the construction material onto a tractor and finally to a boat, taking it to the final destination.

Reconstruction of schools

At the end of April 2001 all planned school constructions were completed and handed over to the school authorities, all of which are now operational.

No.
Name of school
District
GP*
Village
1
Saraswati Academy
Puri
Bangurigaon
Kaniha
2
Nateswar Prachi Vidyapitha
Puri
Bangurigaon
Nasikeswar
3
Jagannath Vidyapitha
Jagatsinghpur
Garaharishpur
Garia
4
Markanda Vidyapitha
Jagatsinghpur
Garaharishpur
Garaharishpur
5
Banagadi ME** School
Jagatsinghpur
Goda
Aunri
6
Karunakar Sanskrit School
Jagatsinghpur
Nuaratanpur
Nuaratanpur
7
Jitendra ME School
Jagatsinghpur
Padmapur
Kiamundi
8
Ramanimohan ME School
Kendrapara
Jamboo
Khandapatia
9
Patakumari ME School
Kendrapara
Brahmansahi
Khandamara
10
Gokarneswar ME School
Kendrapara
Dera
Gokhani
* A GP (Gram Panchayat - a village Committee) is constituted of several villages, several GPs constitute a Block and several Blocks constitute a District.

** ME stands for Middle English

As these schools were also constructed to function as cyclone shelters, a follow up of their condition through a disaster preparedness project should be established. There is an opportunity to synchronise the cyclone shelter programme involvement of the German Red Cross (National Society with the longest presence and implementation record in the Orissa State), the Spanish Red Cross and the Federation, with coordination and lessons learnt leading to a more compact, coherent and synergised programme in the areas of community based disaster preparedness programme (CBDP) and early warning.

Other Red Cross activities

The western part of Orissa was under a grip of severe drought during the entire period. On receiving report of the drought situation the Federation came forward to provide relief to the drought affected families. In consultation with the Government of Orissa 4,500 families in Padmapur and Gaisilat Block of Baragarh district were selected and relief was provided in March and April 2001. The relief consisted of rice (20 kg), dal/lentils (5 kg) and oil (2 Lit) per family per month.

Orissa Disaster Mitigation Programme (ODPM)

Under the ODMP training for inhabitants of villages around the 23 cyclone shelters built between 1996 and 1999 were conducted in the Disaster Preparedness Training Centre of IRCS Orissa State Branch in Bhubaneswar and at the shelter sites:

By 31 December 2001 the following number of people were trained:

Disaster Preparedness/Disaster Management: 2919
First Aid: 2428
Search & Rescue: 476
Your Leadership: 1017
Home Nursing: 581
Income Generation: 213
Vocational Trade: 838
Health: 153

By the time the 1999 cyclone struck, the ODMP had formed 56 Self Help Groups (SHGs) around the shelters with 1493 members. The IFRCS supported them financially to recover from the disaster and strengthen their economic situation. Each self help group member received financial assistance of a sum of INR 2300, which they used for small trade, poultry, animal husbandry etc.

Moreover, supplementary nutrition programmes were carried out in the worst affected shelter areas. Besides the supplementary feeding to children and mothers, they included health check-up camps, awareness building for mothers, pregnant women, children and destitute people, and kitchen gardening.

The programmes were supported by the Bavarian Branch of the German Red Cross, Swiss Red Cross and British Red Cross and reached up to December 2001 a total of 3,756 children and 728 mothers.

Through the health check-up camps, 6,399 patients were treated. While the Bavarian Red Cross supported programme was completed in November 2001, the Swiss and British funded programmes continued up to end of January 2002.

Achievements and constraints

Analysis of the Operation

Needs Assessment: The assessments of needs was carried out several times during the relief operation. The initial assessment was done by the Orissa State Branch of the Indian Red Cross through the DPC (Disaster Preparedness Committees) and Task Force teams. The DPCs attached to the Red Cross cyclone shelters consist of nine members from the local community while the Task Force teams have thirty youth members. As they belonged to the local communities to which they were attached and were familiar with the area, they were a good source of first hand information. Most of them were already in the field assessing the situation and assisting the population after the earlier cyclone of 18 October 1999.

As early as 1 November 1999, another assessment by the Federation Regional Delegates and the Federation health consultant was undertaken, followed by a visit to the field by the Joint Secretary of the Indian Red Cross and the Head of Regional Delegation.

Although the affected districts of Orissa were highly inaccessible at first, by mid-November it was already quite clear that the cyclone had caused enormous and long-term damage to the State and the population of Orissa.

The assessment by the health consultant pointed out that no major outbreaks of gastric diseases would follow the disaster, due to the immediate action of the Government and Red Cross in providing adequate supply of purification tablets and bleaching powder for the treatment of water but more importantly due to prior knowledge of the population about the threats lying in contaminated water. As stated earlier, the objectives in the original Plan of Action were adjusted to the situation in the field as the relief operation progressed. The objectives were met through assistance to the selected beneficiary families who would otherwise have been left with very little means of subsistence and support.

Looking back at the relief operation, it became once again clear that timely response and co-ordinated activities are of the utmost importance in assisting victims of the disaster. However, certain constraints influencing the above-mentioned efficiency and timely response to disasters are listed below.

The time gap between the announcement and actual receipt of the funds in the field was often too long for an adequate response immediately after the disaster. It happened in a few cases that other organisations had already covered the assessed needs by the time the funds arrived to the field since the pledged financial resources were channelled from the donor to the Federation headquarters, then to the Regional Delegation which forwarded the funds to the Indian Red Cross headquarters and finally to the Orissa State Branch .

This procedure would additionally shorten the procurement time frame or automatically require the extension of the initially planned time frame of the operation. The problem was sometimes further aggravated by a strict earmarking of funds by donors as it makes it impossible for the operatives in the field to quickly switch from earlier identified needs to later changed requirements. A more flexible approach to earmarking should be considered, provided it is adequately accompanied by reporting on the reasons and changes made.

It is unfortunate that in terms of human resources, the capacity and structure of the Orissa State Branch somewhat limited their own activities as individual field officers had to cover vast and sometimes inaccessible areas, thus, delaying distributions and feedback;

As already mentioned, the scale of this rehabilitation programme, but even more the difficult environment, -- resulted in a long extension of the operation. The areas selected were so remote that though it fitted very well to reach the most vulnerable, it made it difficult to implement the operation in time, given the following conditions: incessant monsoon rains, acute shortage of masons and slow repairs of damaged roads.

Contributions

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Conclusion

Natural disasters do not always show their full scale immediately. Due to various obstacles hampering the access to the most affected areas, only subsequent visits to the field and reassessment of the situation make it possible to realise the full extent of the disaster. This leads to the conclusion that much longer-term assistance is necessary to enable the population in the affected area to re-establish their lives.

The relief phase of the operation fulfilled its objectives and saved the affected beneficiary families from starvation as the first and imminent result of the super cyclone. Shelter material, blankets, kitchen sets, clothing were also essential in the initial days after the disaster to prevent the beneficiaries from further suffering and exposure to the will of nature once they lost their own homes and possessions. The super cyclone itself was of such proportions that by many standards many more vulnerable families would rightly need support and assistance since the needs were not fully covered even by the combined Government/UN/NGOs efforts.

The three month relief operation was followed by a six month rehabilitation programme which shifted from the immediate food assistance to construction and reconstruction of buildings and tube wells, agricultural support, educational assistance and a small food element for those vulnerable families who could not do food-for-work.

As the Orissa State Branch of the Indian Red Cross executed the relief operation, greater attention in the future should be paid to the following:

1. capacity building (disaster and financial management, reporting, information/PR);

2. institutional development (branch development).

Managerial positions/staff should be redesigned and long-term employment ensured in order to enable the continuity within the organisation. The members of the Orissa Disaster Preparedness Committees and Task Force teams in the field could be a core for the future larger number of Red Cross volunteers in local communities.

Certain areas of work within the Red Cross structure, e.g. information/PR, should be introduced in order to give the Red Cross activities the visibility and the credit they deserve. This is already addressed in the India Gujarat Rehabilitation Operation through the Information Development Project within the OD (Organisational Development) Programme. (for further details please see the appeal 20/01 and Operations Update no. 9 of 2 July 2002)

For further details please contact:

IRCS - Dr. (Mrs.) Vimala Ramalingam, Secretary General Phone: 91 11 371 6424; Fax: 91 11 371 7454; e-mail: vimalaramalingam@indianredcross.org

Federation Delegation in India - Azhmat Ullah, Head of Delegation Phone: 91 11 332 4213; Fax: 91 11 332 4235; e-mail: ifrcin65@ifrc.org

Federation Geneva - Tatjana Tosic, India Desk Officer Phone: 41 22 730 4429; Fax 41 22 733 0395; email: tosic@ifrc.org

All International Federation Operations seek to adhere to the Code of Conduct and are committed to the Humanitarian Charter and Minimum Standards in Disaster Response (SPHERE Project) in delivering assistance to the most vulnerable. The procurement for this operation was carried out in full compliance and conformity with the Federation's standard for international and local procurement.

For support to or for further information concerning Federation operations in this or other countries, please access the Federation website at http://www.ifrc.org.

This operation sought to administer to the immediate requirements of the victims of this disaster. Subsequent operations to promote sustainable development or long-term capacity building will require additional support, and these programmes are outlined on the Federation's website.

Simon Missiri
Head
Asia Pacific Department

John Horekens
Director
External Relations