3 June 2009

Shortage of cyclone shelters

12 lack people in coastal areas remain vulnerable

Nearly 12 lack extremely poor people in 15 coastal districts of the country remain exposed to the fury of cyclone every year due to inadequate cyclone center. Majority of the people who lost their lives in the in the cyclone Aila that battered 11 coastal districts a few days ago belonged to the extreme poor bracket. They could not take shelter for their safety because of inadequate shelter. A total of 12 lack hard core poor out of 26.46 lack have no access to the 2,729 cyclone shelter centers in those coastal districts, sources in the Food and Disaster Management told the New Nation yesterday. Of the 3,025 cyclone shelter centers in the coastal districts, 296 are in a ramshackle condition for lack of repair and maintenance. Of the centers, a total of 1,490 cyclone shelter centers are in Chittagong division for 1.68 corer people, 544 centers in Khulna division for 56.25 lack people and 1,171 cyclone shelter centers in Barisal division for 92.68 lack people. Some 1,271 more cyclone shelter centers should be built in the coastal districts for giving shelter to all 26.46 lack extreme poor people, according to sources. Besides, there are 93 cattle shelter centers (Killah), which can accommodate only 87,340 cattle against the demand of nearly 500 killah for 5.78 lack cattle in the region. In the last cabinet meeting, Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina directed the Food and Disaster Management Ministry to build adequate cyclone center as a part of the long-term rehabilitation program for the cyclone-hit people. During the past caretaker government, the Food and Disaster Management Minister placed a project to construct 816 cyclone shelter centers at a cost of Tk 16,00 corer in 2007-08 fiscal. But the Finance Ministry did not approve it citing financial constraint. At a press briefing yesterday, Food and Disaster Management Minister Dr Abdur Razzaque said that the government has taken step to construct cyclone shelter center and cattle shelter and reconstruct embankments as a long-term rehabilitation program in the cyclone prone districts. Human casualties and loss of cattle were higher due to insufficient shelter and weak embankments. Cyclone Aila claimed 179 lives and inflicted injuries on 7,153 people, according to a government estimate.
On the other hand, a total of 1,02,215 livestock were killed by the tidal surge during the cyclone.

people need more int'l aid: Oxfam

More help needed from the international community as survivors of cyclone 'Aila' face contaminated water and disease, aid agency Oxfam said on Tuesday. Cyclone survivors in Bangladesh are now facing a severe risk of disease as supply of safe drinking water is reaching to a crisis levels, a press release of Oxfam said. The full picture of the devastation caused by the cyclone is only now fully emerging. Salt water has contaminated nearly all the fresh water sources in the south-west of the country and damaged around a third in central and south-eastern districts. The sanitation systems have collapsed in all cyclone affected areas and human, animal and fish corpses are polluting the countryside, the release said. Cyclone Aila hit the Bangladesh coast on May 25, affecting 3.6 million people and leaving over 7.50 lakh people homeless. Head of Oxfam in Bangladesh Heather Blackwell said, "The cyclone affected areas of Bangladesh are now an ideal breeding ground for all kinds of diseases." In may areas as the sources of fresh water have been polluted by the sea water, forcing people to drink dirty water, he added. Oxfam chief said, "The government of Bangladesh is trying to cope with the problem and has already asked for foreign aid." Oxfam urged the international community to respond generously to help cyclone victims", he added. Oxfam is currently expanding its emergency response to reach 1.10 lack people in the most severely affected districts of Khulna and Shatkhira.