A massive cyclone which hit Bangladesh in May 2009 is still having a devastating effect on the lives of many people in the country three years after the event, international humanitarian agency Oxfam said today.
To coincide with the three year mark, Oxfam is appealing for the Government of Bangladesh and the international community to provide additional funding to support an estimated 50,000 people still affected in the Southwest of the country.
Many of those still affected haven’t enough food, safe drinking water and a means to make a living. They also lack adequate shelter and face a fresh risk of their homes being washed away by this month’s monsoon rains, which are anticipated to threaten millions including an estimated 200,000 people who were affected by cyclone Aila, mostly in the Shatkhira and Khulna district.
“Every night we go to sleep in fear as our house is just on the edge of the dam and that may disappear with a surge of water anytime, especially in the monsoon,” said Saleha, 40, who lives with her family on an embankment in Gabura, Shatkhira district.
Cyclone Aila, which swept across areas of southern Bangladesh and eastern India on 25 May 2009, caused widespread damage and affected around three million people. In southern Bangladesh, the cyclone caused a tidal surge which broke through poorly maintained coastal embankments. In south western districts, especially in Shatkhira and Kulna, people living in the coastal villages were forced to flee to raised embankments as houses and crops became submerged under water.
The Government of Bangladesh requested around £700 million from the international community at the time of the disaster to enable full recovery, but received only around one per cent of the required resources from outside sources.
Oxfam’s initial response to the cyclone reached up to 100,000 people with clean water, sanitation and environment cleaning through a cash for work programme. In 2011, the agency provided food support for more than 200,000 people and this year is continuing to provide 25,000 people with safe drinking water, sanitation and food support.
"This was an awful disaster that persisted for more than a year - people were unable to even begin the recovery process,” said Gareth Price-Jones, Oxfam’s Country Director for Bangladesh. “As with many disasters in Bangladesh that are ignored by the world, the survivors are left more vulnerable to future disasters that we know are on the way. Without greater support the situation can only worsen, at a huge cost in human suffering."