15 OCT 2013
Cyclone leaves destruction and homelessness in India
Oxfam India will provide water, sanitation and shelter to initially 60,000 people affected by Cyclone Phailin. The storm, one of the country’s biggest natural disasters in years, left India on Sunday leaving almost 9 million people affected.
Winds of up to 200kmh destroyed 300,000 hectares of crops and damaged 200,000 houses, some beyond repair. Phailin will cost India upwards of $389 million.
However, perhaps the most staggering statistic was that just 23 people were reported killed. In the same area in 1999 a cyclone killed more than 10,000 people. This time authorities moved nearly a million people into temporary shelters in schools and government buildings.
Oxfam India Humanitarian Programme Manager Zubin Zaman said, “Many lives were undoubtedly saved because of quick action by the governments of Odisha and Andhra Pradesh. They used cyclone early warning systems effectively and there was excellent coordination between agencies to get everybody out to safety in time.”
“However, hundreds of thousands of people are now displaced and need safe water and sanitation. Some need emergency shelter. It is important that local administrators continue to supply food over a sustained period of time to meet people’s needs.”
Oxfam India is also distributing chlorine tablets that people can use to purify water, and plans to provide hygiene kits and emergency shelter. Oxfam India will focus on the Chattarpur and Ganjam blocks in Ganjam and Puri districts. Oxfam India plans to reach initially 60,000 affected people with the help of local partners, Unites Artists Association and Solar.
Oxfam’s Humanitarian Director Carsten Voelz said that so many lives are saved this time with quick and decisive action taken by the provincial governments, which have learnt lessons from 1999. He said,”However the only way that all countries are going to fundamentally reduce the risk facing poor people is by tackling inequality and poor services and lack of social protection. The only way to stop poor people from being so vulnerable to crises is to stop them from being so poor.”
Oxfam is dedicated to fighting poverty and inequity worldwide. The international and independent development and humanitarian organisation tackles poverty in four main ways: sustainable development in poor communities, disaster relief, local, national and global advocacy, and education with Hong Kong youth. Established in Hong Kong in 1976, Oxfam Hong Kong is a founding member of Oxfam, an international confederation that has assisted poor people in 94 countries. Oxfam Hong Kong alone has supported poor people in over 70 countries/regions.
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