Life after cyclone Amphan: South 24 Pargana struggle to rebuild lives and livelihoods

Sabita Hembrum believes that her bad time stared after the death of her husband who was the main breadwinner of the family. At 45, she is the mother of two daughters and a son who is 10 years old. The mud shelter that the family lived was destroyed in the Cyclone Amphan. Currently, she is staying in a damaged shed of a neighbour. The house is very close to the river and Sabita is fearful of erosion of the banks.

Sabita is suffering from kidney and heart ailments and cannot work. Her elder daughter Phulmoni aged 20 is the only one who earns a small amount to put one meal a day for the family.

The cyclone not only destroyed their house but also their agricultural field and crops which was the major source of their income. This is the story of several other people from Mousuni and Sagar gram panchayat of South 24 Parganas.

The baseline survey found that 56 % respondent does not have enough food stocks and about 49% have changed or reduced their meal consumption pattern due to unavailability of food.

People are surviving by borrowing food or relying on support from friends and relatives. With the proliferation of the COVID 19, options for earning a livelihood has been further reduced and irregular lockdowns have hampered mobility and availability of food stocks for families.

Sabita, along with other 807 most affected families has received unconditional cash transfers (UCT). They were supported with Rs, 10,000/- each. The unconditional cash transfer scheme in South 24 Pargana of West Bengal is funded by European Commission Humanitarian Aid and implemented by Caritas India and partners through bank transfers.

Caritas India helped Sabita with an unconditional grant and she is overwhelmed in expressing her appreciation for the aid and her eyes cloud in emotions. This money she says will add to the food rations provided by the government and will give her some respite thinking for the next meal.

Unconditional Cash Transfer helps in restoring dignity, gives independence to those affected by disasters and provides people with the chance to decide for themselves what they most need.

Sabita was also assisted with the Hygiene Kit to ensure the necessities which she has lost with her house. She tentatively rolls her tongue to say the name and is effusive in her blessings for the support.

Apart from UCT, 504 families received Conditional Cash Transfer (CCT) to build their homes. The programme through its Water, Sanitation and Hygiene (WaSH) activities has done a robust awareness generation, water point repair, toilet repairs and pond cleaning and chlorination.