‘Cyclone Fani’, one of the strongest storms to batter the Indian subcontinent in decades, made landfall near Puri, India, on 3rd May 2019. Over 10,000 villages and 50 towns bore its brunt, with over 1.4 million people still in relief centres across the states of Andhra Pradesh, Odisha and West Bengal.
Drinking water is evident as the most urgent need. Taps are dry, local water bodies are broken or contaminated with saline water or garbage, and toilets are waterlogged and not functional. With electricity supply expected to stay affected for at least a week more, pumping stations are out of order and water supply will remain an area of concern.
Contaminated drinking water is usually the cause of water borne disease outbreaks in such situations, and thus an urgent focus is being placed on clean drinking water supply, enabling hygienic conditions, and providing medical support via health camps to nip any diseases in the bud. Odisha was hardest hit, and the non-profit organisation SEEDS is reaching out with immediate water, health and hygiene support to the worst affected – largely slum dwellers and rural marginal families.
Early Recovery Assistance
Keeping an eye on the next level of needs, the NPO’s team will be working with affected families to start reconstruction as soon as possible. With estimates of tens of thousands of houses damaged, there is a strong urgency in getting roofs over people’s heads in the sweltering heat of the coming days, and the monsoon rains and main cyclone season that lies ahead.
While plastic sheets and tarpaulin are being distributed in these areas, families cannot survive in these for long, and permanent housing reconstruction will take years. For partially damaged houses, families will be advised to repair them safely, to withstand future disasters.
Damaged schools will need to be rebuilt or repaired soon enough for children to restart their education at the end of the summer. Other public infrastructure like health centres and community buildings will also require attention.
While government support will be adequate to do this, SEEDS strives to work with affected communities to fill the time gap till these facilities are accounted for, funded and rebuilt. They call this approach ‘transitional’, wherein transitional houses and schools help affected families survive the coming months better and are the starting point for recovery. Here’s urging individuals and organisations with technical skills in the water, sanitation, health and shelter construction domains to volunteer and lend a helping hand to our countrymen.
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The CSR Journal Team