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BANGLADESH: Two years after Cyclone Sidr, survivors still seeking shelter

Posted by Lindy on December 4, 2009

20 November 2009 Original article:

Two years after Cyclone Sidr hit the southern coastal districts of Bangladesh, many of the survivors are still homeless and at severe risk from further disasters, officials say. Cyclone Sidr lashed the southern coastal regions of Bangladesh on 15 November 2007. Thirty districts were affected, with more than 3,400 deaths (yes I know – the numbers do not add up – but some died afterwards indirectly from Sidr itself from from waterborne diseases et)c. Damage to property, livestock and crops was estimated at US$1.7 billion, with half of that in the housing sector, according to the government.

Despite aid efforts, more new homes are still needed as are cyclone shelters. Meanwhile, crucial work to prevent flooding remains under-funded.

Extensive flood embankment networks provide this region with critical protection from these natural calamities, but Sidr damaged a large part, leaving the inhabitants of six coastal districts vulnerable to tidal waves and storm surges. According to the Bangladesh Water Development Board, which maintains these embankments, about 46 percent or 2,341km of the 5,107km of flood embankments protecting the southern regions were partially or completely destroyed by Sidr. Repair work to the embankments has yet to begin properly, with a lack of funding cited as the primary reason. About $100 million is required.  The money is being provided and repai should begin soon.

In the worst affected areas tidal seawater inundated their land. “Every day, during the tides, brackish seawater gets into the croplands, fouling up the fertile topsoil. Soil salinity is increasing alarmingly. Almost 1,400ha of croplands and is now vulnerable because of the damaged embankments.”

Lacking proper shelter: “Nearly half a million people who were displaced by Sidr are still without proper housing and need rehabilitation,” said a representative of  Bangladesh Red Crescent Society.

Farmer Jainal Abedin lost his father, his home and all his possessions to Sidr. “I am still living in a hovel made of plastic sheets and debris. I had to spend my housing grant money ($73) on food after the storm.

The International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies has built 1,250 cyclone core shelters, sturdier homes that can withstand a cyclone.

The district of Bagerhat is very short proper cyclone protection shelters. It needs 490 for the population but only has 130, which can protect about one third of the people who may need them.

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