Cyclone Sidr: After one year, more than a million still struggling

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Communities still need urgent help to recover from the impact of Sidr

"Greater political and financial efforts to resolve the shelter crisis are needed." - Heather Blackwell, Bangladesh Oxfam Country Director

Almost one year after Cyclone Sidr ravaged southern Bangladesh last November 15, killing more than 3,000 people and leaving millions homeless, more than one million survivors are struggling without proper shelter and are at greater risk of disease than before, the international aid agency, Oxfam, has warned.

A new documentary, Our Home After Sidr, produced by Oxfam, highlights the serious problems still facing many families affected by Cyclone Sidr.

Despite funding pledges from foreign governments, international donors and non-governmental organizations to help build new homes for around 78,000 families, only about one-quarter of these planned homes, designed to be more resilient in future storms, have been built.

Another 276,000 families have received no reconstruction help and are living in unsafe shelters, built from polythene sheets and salvaged materials. Additionally, landless families living on government-owned land, or Khas areas, are excluded from receiving any government shelter support because they have no official land titles.

"People who have land deeds were given houses and those who don't were not. They had to make do with plastic sheeting they received after the disaster," one villager, Mussamat Halima, from Barguna district, said in the documentary. "The sheets are now torn; people are living with ripped pieces of sheeting and broken tin. They are suffering."

"Communities still need urgent help - both to recover from the impact of Sidr, and to be able to prepare for future possible storms, floods or cyclones," said Bangladesh-Oxfam country director, Heather Blackwell.

"Oxfam is calling for greater political and financial efforts to resolve the shelter crisis. This will require continued substantial support from the international community in the form of increased aid and greater political commitment by all parties involved in relief and rehabilitation efforts, led by the Bangladesh government," said Blackwell.

Low-lying Bangladesh - one of the world's most densely populated and poorest countries - suffers from many climate-related problems every year, including floods, cyclones and tornadoes. Their frequency and ferocity is increasing, making some of Bangladesh's poorest rural communities even more vulnerable and reducing their ability to grow crops, have access to clean water and housing.

The United Nations' Inter-governmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) has predicted that Bangladesh could lose nearly one-fifth of its land by 2050 because of rising sea levels due to global warming.

Notes to editors

Our Home After Sidr will be screened on Thursday 13 November, 10.30 am at the Sheraton Hotel, Dhaka, Bangladesh.

A discussion will follow with guests:

- K.H. Masud Siddiqui, Director General of the Disaster Management Bureau;

- Bangladesh-Oxfam Country Director, Heather Blackwell;

- Mr Peter Pichler, Country director, Swiss Red Cross;

- Mr. Aly Zaker, Actor and CEO of Asiatic media, and

- BMM Mozharul Huq, Dhaka Shelter Working Group Chair and UNDP Adviser, Humanitarian Response Team.

- Two representatives from the cyclone-affected district of Barguna will also take part.

For more information, please contact:

Caroline Gluck, Oxfam humanitarian press officer +880 2 8813607-9, cell + 880 171 343 8881.