Friday, November 16, 2007

Updated Information on Cyclone Sidr & Rethinking Disaster Relief

More information and maps have continued to appear on blogs and internet about the magnitude of Cyclone Sidr and resulting disaster(s), and recovery efforts. The death toll continues to rise above 2000 persons (updated 17 Nov usa pm). Personally, I am both shocked and dismayed at the lack of knowledge about the Category 5 hurricane that just plowed into Bangladesh on Thursday--a South Asian country with 140 million people and geographic size of the state of Wisconsin--but little international attention except for its cheap garment production-factories, remitting migrant workers in the Middle East and elsewhere, Army-Peacekeepers for the UN.

Non-resident Bangladeshis and allies continue to blog about what has happened and their efforts to reach out and find their near and dear ones despite clogged and downed phone lines. Still not much in USA media or knowledge among many in USA, although the NYT's webpage had a front page story earlier today (now buried to a link).

As always, Rezwan has the latest posts and information in his excellent Third World View (see also his earlier posts), including map of the population density in storm surge and cyclone areas and Dr. Jeff Master's analyses.

Before you decided to donate, contribute to relief efforts, first read Rezwan's insightful post on "How can you help Bangladesh cyclone victims?" where he discusses the limitations of what the Bangladesh government can do, the roles of NGOs in distributing enormous amounts of relief, but also some specific actions that all of us can take to help Bangladesh recover such as buying Bangladesh, raising funds for specific projects, and encouraging our governments do something such as lowering the tariff/import barriers for Bangladeshi garments and knit goods...legislation that has been languishing in the U.S. congress and Senate.

Also check back often to his post because he continues to update, such as this link to Drishtipat-Unheard Voices on how people outside of Bangladesh can help and mobilize.

According to many sources, the death toil from Cyclone Sidr has risen to 1700+ and many more thousands are injured and/or lost their dwellings-livestock-livelihoods amidst the coming Bangladesh cold, collapse of Bangladesh's power grid, and resultant loss of mobile, internet, and phone networks and safe potable water. I have made contact with Nari Jibon staff who are OK and say they are carefully using their electricity and computer backup batteries, but have little or no electricity and no internet connections.

From the Intersection, which provided valuable pre Sidr information, comes Sheril's video plea for more help for Bangladesh and Chris's latest post provides some links to on the scene Care (from Alertnet) , overall updates and working agencies-NGO-maps, and Relief Net reports, click on Bangladesh: Tropical Cyclone links which lead to links for UN Office of Coordination for Humanitarian Affairs OCHA, Report No. 1 or the storm surge map from Int'l Red Cross/Red Crescent Societies (also working with UN). Other agencies have stepped in as well before and after Sidr.

The good news is that in the seven days preceding Cyclone Sidr's landfall, unprecedented coordination of NGOs and government in evacuations occurred although the numbers of shelters were far less than the millions of persons seeking shelter. Ideally, this prevented immediate high death tolls like in 1970 and 1991, but the ongoing tragedy may be what happens to the millions of survivors--many of whom are injured-- who are living in cold, wet, open air conditions with little or no good drinking water and food.

Once again continue to pay attention to the plight of Bangladesh and the storm affected people through your thoughts, prayers and donations to some of these and your other international relief charities. Hopefully these relief goods and efforts will make their way--directly and quickly-- to the people who need them the most. Again, read Rezwan's insightful post on "How can you help Bangladesh cyclone victims?"

P.S. I just had a long telephone chat with the staff of Nari Jibon Project who have come to the office today despite no electricity and internet connections. Some english students have also shown up for their class and are busy writing their own stories! For more on this conversation and few of their stories go to Bangladesh from Our View. I will post more of their stories on Sunday-Monday if their internet connection is still closed.

No comments: