UNICEF Odisha Cyclone FANI Update #2
• Over 28 million people including an estimated 10 million children are in the path of the impact of Cyclone FANI in ODISHA in mainly 14 districts
• The Government of Odisha-NGO (GO-NGO) coordination mechanism reactivated with UNICEF support during last year’s Cyclone Titli will be extended during the current cyclone
• Government is currently relocating approximately 1 million population from the vulnerable locations to safe shelters including 825 special cyclone shelters
• Code of Conduct for elections has been withdrawn from the districts likely to be affected
• Under the partnership with UNICEF, OXFAM and Inter agency group are leading the GO-NGO coordination with the Odisha State Disaster Management Authority (OSDMA)
• UNICEF team is working with the respective departments to monitor evacuations and service delivery to ensure the Core Commitment for Children in Humanitarian Action
Odisha’s coastal districts are vulnerable to both floods and storm surge of cyclones. Odisha is prone to tropical cyclones both in premonsoon months of April-May and post-monsoon months of September-November. The most recent cyclone to hit the coast of Odisha was the very severe cyclonic storm Titli in 2018. The extremely severe cyclonic storm Phailin which hit the state in 2013, affected 13.2 million people.
Seven coastal districts are immediately exposed to the onset of storms, and about 12 districts come under the equally damaging effects of the severe and frequent flooding during cyclones and monsoons, as these are highly populated areas. The risk is aggravated by the following factors: 33% of the state population live below poverty line. Overall infrastructure of the state is weak. The health system, including public health infrastructures, are assessed to be vulnerable to withstand repeated exposure to storms and floods. High prevalence of open defecation across the state, including in the coastal areas, expose children to heightened risk of health hazards during floods. Effects of repeated shocks on the livelihood of the poor is likely to contribute to high level of out of school children and children in migration. However, there are some mitigating elements. Since 1999 Super-Cyclone, Odisha has invested heavily in community-based DRR, significantly reducing the vulnerabilities of these coastal communities over the past years.
Odisha has a strong State Disaster Management Authority (OSDMA) set up in the wake of the Super-Cyclone (1999), and a very operational Special Relief Commissioner (SRC)'s function, and the NGO Inter-Agency Group (IAG), is one of the strongest groups in India. UNICEF has contributed significantly to the work of OSDMA and IAG over the years. IAG's outstanding capacity to undertake independent assessments in time of disasters and to partake fully in the state’s efforts at DRR significantly complements UNICEF's response capacity. OSDMA remains open to improve its function with UNICEF's technical support (e.g. vulnerability assessment of its public health facilities in the coastal regions with UNICEF support). Odisha state has developed district wise disaster management plans as well as department wise disaster management plans. In addition, the State DRR roadmap is under preparation now.
Sustained strengthening of Disaster Risk Resilience through institutional mechanisms since the Super Cyclone has helped the state government aim for ‘Zero casualty’ such as during Cyclone Phailin. The recent cyclone ‘Titli’ demonstrated gaps in preparedness and response on cyclones in districts other than the traditional 14 costal districts. In ‘Titli’ the state government reported 77 deaths due to landslides. Because of ongoing general elections in the country, both union and state governments are mounting effective response for preparedness and response planning. The Election Commission of India has lifted the Code of Conduct from the districts likely to be affected and the Centre has allocated advance funds of 340 crores (US$ 48 mn) for the response.
The current extremely severe cyclonic storm ‘FANI’ is predicted to be more severe than ‘Titli’ and less severe than ‘Phailin.’