Bangladesh

Cyclone Sidr: Twelve months on

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ActionAid is focusing on rehabilitation and reconstruction to help survivors in various communities.

Twelve months after Cyclone Sidr devastated parts of Bangladesh, killing over 3,400 people and injuring 55,000, those who survived are visiting free ActionAid health camps in an effort to get their lives back on track.

The cyclone resulted in nearly nine million people losing their homes, livelihoods or livestock while the cost was put at some =A3460 million.

As one of many NGOs working on relief efforts, ActionAid Bangladesh focused on rehabilitation and recovery, reconstruction, health and psychosocial care.

"People in the community played an active part in preparation, responding to emergency warnings, helping to reduce the number of deaths," said Roger Yates, ActionAid's Head of Emergencies.

Working with local partners JJS and Speed Trust, ActionAid provided emergency relief to more than 188,000 people, distributing food, shelter and emergency medical supplies.

Survivors are now taking the opportunity to visit one of ActionAid's twenty health camps in Bagerhat and Patuakhali districts, where they can be treated by experienced doctors and receive free medicine.

Some patients have been provided with iron and calcium tablets to help them recover from ill health and malnutrition. Pregnant women have received special assistance, with some 38 gaining referral support that saved their lives.

Wheelchairs have been distributed amongst the disabled and information is being displayed in public places to promote awareness of health and hygiene issues.

Through six specialist eye camps, 228 patients with cataract problems have been provided with support for operations.

Ongoing disaster prevention work has also included excavation of ponds for safe drinking water, cyclone proofing shelters, providing permanent areas for landless families as well as operating cash for work programmes. In addition, education kits were provided to over 1,000 school children who lost their possessions during the disaster.

A team specialising in psychosocial care visited six villages in Bagerhat and Potukhali districts, to provide support to 130 children in an effort to help them recover from the trauma of the disaster.

"It takes a long time for poor people to recover from the devastating losses experienced during a cyclone," said Roger Yates, head of emergencies at ActionAid.

"And there's still a long way to go."