Bangladesh: Cyclone Aila

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The cyclonic storm "Aila" hit the south western part of Bangladesh (Khulna Division) and West Bengal in India on 25th May 2009, affecting more than 3 million people and killing approximately 190 in Bangladesh. Several hundred thousands of homes were washed away when wind-driven tidal surges up to 3 meters destroyed the coastal belt. Many areas of the affected districts were inundated and houses, roads and embankments were damaged. Most of the drinking water ponds were contaminated. The most severely affected sectors were fisheries and fish/shrimp farming.

Early Recovery

The Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC) provided 241,700 Swiss Francs (1.47 Crore Taka) grant for Cyclone Aila emergency assistance and recovery activities. This support was provided in six upazilas (sub-districts) of Khulna, Satkhira and Bagerhat districts through local NGO partners Rupantar and Ashroy Foundation while government authorities were well engaged.

The immediate SDC support focused on ensuring urgently required water, sanitation, other non-food items and providing alternative livelihood through 'cash for work'. 9,000 person days of employment was created that helped in food security of the affected households. Recovery support was provided by arranging alternative livelihood options for victims. The 'cash for work' activities were expanded, together with support in vegetable seed distribution, tree plantation, sanitation and health awareness etc. Protection during the monsoon season was given by providing tents to the affected people, specially women and children.

Cash for Livelihood

Taking the successful example of the cash approach after cyclone "Sidr" in 2008, SDC has completed a similar 'Cash for Livelihood' (CfL) project for the Cyclone Aila victims. The overall goal of the CfL project was to increase the capacity of farmers, fishermen, small enterprise owners and day labourers whose livelihoods were severely affected by cyclone 'Aila' to overcome the loss of income in order to re-start their economic activities through a cash contribution and to become independent from relief.

The project has been implemented in Khulna and Satkhira districts in the same area where the SDC post- Aila Early Recovery programme was implemented. Under the project, 4,199 households of farmers, fishermen, small enterprise owners and day labourers received a one-time cash grant of BDT 15,000 (CHF 250) during January 2010 to rebuild their livelihoods. The project was implemented in Padma Pukur Union, Shyamnagar Upazila, Satkhira and in the Sutarkhali Union, Dacope Upazila, Khulna.

The following criteria was fulfilled by the beneficiaries:

1. Farmers, fishermen, small enterprise owners and day labourers permanently residing in the selected villages/wards

2. Farmers, fishermen, small enterprise owners and day labourers that had direct damage or losses due to cyclone 'Aila'

Only one member per selected beneficiary household received the cash grant.

Duration and Budget of the Cash for Livelihood Project

The project period is November 2009 to March 2010. Total SDC contribution for the project is Swiss Franc (CHF) 1,200,000.