Christian Aid and its local partners are poised to respond to Cyclone Bulbul, which damaged thousands of homes across India and Bangladesh over the weekend.
The charity – which has stepped up its disaster preparation work in the region over the past three years – is assessing the scale of damage and planning the best way to help survivors to recover and rebuild their homes and livelihoods.
The cyclone has caused the deaths of 20 people across India and Bangladesh, according to recent reports, displacing some two million more. Winds of up to 75mph hit late on Saturday [9 November], with both countries closing airports and ports.
In Bangladesh, eight people were killed and at least 20 more injured, with coastal Khulna being the worst-hit district. Twelve people were killed in India’s West Bengal state and Kolkata. The cyclone also has damaged thousands of mostly mud and tin-built houses, according to local authorities.
However, the loss of life was limited due to evacuations. Some 2.1 million people across Bangladesh were relocated to cyclone shelters, with tens of thousands of volunteers going door-to-door with loudspeakers, urging people to evacuate their villages. They joined troops who were sent to coastal areas.
Shahana Hayat, Christian Aid Humanitarian Programme Manager, said: “We are ready to respond to this emergency, which affected some of the poorest people in the region. The cyclone has brought significant devastation to areas where people are already struggling to survive: they will now need financial and practical support to rebuild their lives and their livelihoods.
“While we mourn those who have been killed by this deadly cyclone, we are grateful that further loss of life was avoided thanks to planning. For years we have been supporting communities to prepare for disasters like this. We will continue standing with them. With climate change, we are seeing storms like these becoming more frequent and more intense – and it’s the poorest people who are hit the hardest. The people of this region have suffered enough.
“Further, we should save our forests as part of our preparedness. The natural environment is so critical to sustainability.”
Christian Aid began operating in Bangladesh in 1972 after the Liberation War. Today it works with 17 partners in 20 of the most vulnerable districts across the southern coastal region, north-west, and central flood and 'haor' (wetland) areas. This includes work on disaster risk management, the climate crisis, resilient livelihoods, and emergency preparedness and response.
Through the ‘Shifting the Power’ project, Christian Aid is currently building the humanitarian response capacity of 11 local and national organisations, promoting women-led responses and encouraging other organisations and government to get involved.
The charity also supports 600 vulnerable waterlogged-affected families in the south west by strengthening their livelihoods. With UNDP (United Nations Development Programme) funding, Christian Aid has implemented a flood recovery and resilience project supporting 80 households in the south east.
To see more on Christian Aid’s work on emergencies please click here: https://www.christianaid.org.uk/emergencies
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