Catholic Relief Services Continues Relief Support For India's Supercyclone Victims: Update February 2000

It will take them 10 years to recover from this disaster," explained Will Lynch, Country Representative for Catholic Relief Services in India. An estimated 20,000 persons died in the Supercyclone in Orissa, eastern India. The bodies of 10,000 have been recovered; most of the individuals who died were poor subsistence fishermen and migrant farmers from the lowest castes of Indian society. More than 300,000 head of livestock were lost. Approximately 1.3 million houses were damaged or destroyed. Three million farmers and fishermen have lost their means of making a living.
Initial Emergency Relief Assistance

During the initial relief phase Catholic Relief Services and Caritas reached more than 700,000 persons in nearly 600 villages in Orissa with 6,000 metric tons of food aid from the US Government. Additional non-food relief items included more than $1 million worth of household utensils, blankets and plastic sheeting donated by Catholic Relief Services and other Caritas members. The agency also provided logistical and technical assistance to Caritas and its network of more than 500 volunteers during the relief phase.

The Rebuilding Begins

Catholic Relief Services is working to help the people of Orissa recovering from the cyclone and floods that struck in October, 1999. This is the second phase of relief assistance, following the initial emergency relief phase. To help with the recovery, Catholic Relief Services, in coordination with Caritas, distributed household recovery packages to more than 45,000 families. Each family received food rations including vegetable seeds, blankets, plastic sheeting, hand tools, clothing and cooking utensils. Each village received several watering cans for cultivation during the dry season.

Thus far Catholic Relief Services has committed $500,000 of its privately donated funds and has raised $1.1 million from the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) for the Orissa emergency. Catholic Relief Services and its local partners are planning agriculture rehabilitation efforts in Orissa. A rehabilitation program will include sanitizing contaminated wells, distributing fishing nets and tools, and the construction of cyclone shelters and cyclone proof housing.

Long Term Rehabilitation

The distribution of family kits is almost complete. The agency has distributed more than 27,000 household and vegetable seed kits provided by the U.S. Office of Foreign Disaster Assistance. CRS also provided another 15,000 household and seed kits with private funds.

Additionally, the agency is working on a program that will supply fishing nets and rowboats to several hundred families of coastal and inland fishermen. Their boats were smashed and nets were lost during the cyclone and tidal wave. They often exist on the fringes of society and the economy. Many are too poor to replace the equipment and their subsistence existence precludes them from credit. CRS will commit $130,000 in private funds for this program.

Agency History

Catholic Relief Services has been working in India for more than 50 years. The agency has a total of five offices in the country, located in Delhi, Lucknow, Calcutta, Hyderabad, and Mumbai.

Copyright=A91999 CRS