State Inter Agency Group West Bengal has conducted a Joint Rapid Need Assessment in the three worst hit cyclone Bulbul affected Coastal districts of Southern Bengal.
The JRNA followed sectoral approaches through District and Village level assessment tools in selected Blocks and Gram Panchayats as suggested by the respective District and Block Administrations. The assessment was carried out in randomly selected 102 Cyclone affected communities from 18 Blocks of 3 districts through Focus Group Discussions (FGD) and interview with key informants. Secondary data was collected from respective authorities at District, Block and Panchayat level during the time of assessment.
During the assessment made of the affected people and related analysis on damage to life and livelihood, it was found that food availability in the cyclone-affected area is less than a week. 52% of the population have food availability for less than one week. Only 19% of the people reported that food is available for a period of one month and above. On further analysis, it was found that 38% of male is having a significant loss of calorie intake of food, female (31%) and children (20%). Through the data collected during the assessment it has come into surface that availability of fodder is less than a week. To address the emergency need, district administration had set up 471 relief camps across affected areas.
Under WASH it has been found that 53% of the villages have limited access to safe and clean drinking water. 72% of the population in the affected area were found to be using the toilets within the camp or at public places (schools, Panchayat building etc) but population residing in the area adjacent to the camps are defecating in open area beside rivers and embankments, which increases the possibility of outbreak of water borne diseases. Thus, it clearly reflects the need for awareness campaigns among the community on safe defecation and proper disposal of waste under such situation.
From the aspect of availability of safe drinking water, 49% of the villages are under the risk of water contamination at source with only 51% reporting less or no risk of water contamination. The assessment found the situation is not favourable, as the contamination of water will increase with time. Hence, there is immediate need of water testing of all existing sources and continuous chlorination to ensure access to safe water. It is suggested that menstrual hygiene management (MHM) should be initiated among the effected community during this situation as mostly women are dependent on use of re-useable cloth (51%). There is an immediate need for strategic planning to address MHM with a gendersensitive and inclusive approach.
This report will help line Departments and Civil Society Organizations to take decisions over intervention strategies, which may be a short term or mid-term in nature.