Cyclone Aila, which slammed into Bangladesh and parts of northeastern India on Monday, has killed nearly two hundred people and washed away the homes of hundreds of thousands more. It is estimated that over three million people in Bangladesh are affected; many are villagers and farming families now living in makeshift shelters.
Snigdha Chakraborty, Country Manager for CRS in Bangladesh, is visiting the cyclone-hit areas with other CRS staff. She says the most urgent need is clean drinking water, because water sources have been contaminated: “It’s all salt water now.” Food is also critical, she says: “People fled their houses so their food was washed away.”
The CRS team visited Mongla and Rampal in the Bagerhat district of Bangladesh on Thursday to find out what help people need most. There, shelters that CRS built only a few months ago were affected by the high tides. “There are about 600 houses that CRS constructed. The houses are standing, but for about half of them, the plinths [foundations] were damaged,” says Chakraborty.
The team is visiting the region of Shyamnagar on Friday. “From what I have heard, that will be worse. Many people are missing, they don’t know how many,” she continues. “Some of the places are inaccessible, so we don’t know how many people have died. People are migrating as they cannot go back to their homes immediately. The water is not receding anywhere very fast.”
Loss of crops is another concern. “The standing crop was basically rice. The first harvest was over, and because of the cyclone, the second planting is gone,” says Chakraborty. “Also, many people here are shrimp farmers, and the shrimp farms are gone. That will really affect the local economy.”
- Laura Sheahen, CRS regional information officer
Tags: Emergency Response
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