In October, 1999 the Indian eastern State
of Orissa was hit by two cyclones affecting many thousands of people in
the southern coastal areas of the State, making them inaccessible to relief
organizations. The second was a 24 hour cyclone with wind speeds of up
to 350km/hour, and setting tidal waves in the worst hit areas 15 meters
above the normal level.
In response to this natural disaster, Concern Bangladesh sent two highly experienced and trained representatives in the first week of November to assess the damage and possible areas of intervention. One week later, Concern was distributing food to an initial 10,000 families through six partner agencies. An additional 22,750 families were later targeted in three districts affected by the Cyclone.
Even though thousands have been feared dead, the actual figures have been difficult to tally due to the inaccessibility to some of the worst affected areas. One local paper put the figure as high as 15,000 dead. The official figure to date is estimated at 10,000 people, with approximately 8,000 of those deaths in Jagatsingpur District.
An estimated 3 million houses were destroyed, leaving a huge number of families homeless. In addition, a number of local schools were destroyed, suspending both primary and secondary education. Over 1.5 million animals were also killed during the cyclone, affecting the source of income for many of families. Victims have been faced with the triple dilemma of no food, no source of income to buy food and the need to have food to work on securing shelter. This created a need for short-term food aid as a major priority.
Concern is providing Food Relief Assistance to 10,000 severely affected families in a number of "neglected" blocks in the Districts of Jagatsingpur (a coastal District), Cuttack and Khurda. These are areas not covered by other relief agencies.
In addition Concern is providing 50,000 kg of seeds and 10,000 plastic sheets for shelter as well as distributing 10,000 blankets. The next stage of Concern's program will include income generating activities, which will include agriculture, livestock and artisanal trades, in addition to afforestation - nursery, social forestry and the provision of horticulture saplings.