Cyclone Amphan has devastated the country's coastal areas, with around 70 villages going under water in Koyra upazila in Khulna when the embankment was breached. This has resulted in thousands of people living in utter despair. According to a report in this daily, at least two lakh people have been badly affected by the cyclone. Among them, those who once lived near the embankment are living in dire conditions with no food and not enough drinking water, and suffering from various waterborne diseases.
While the government has done a commendable job in evacuating a huge number of people during the cyclone ensuring minimal casualties, the challenge now is to make sure that those affected are given immediate food assistance and that they can start rebuilding their lives. The local administration has so far distributed 50 tonnes of rice, 500 packets of dry food and Tk 75 lakh among the cyclone victims in the upazila. But as the report has pointed out, there are families in remote areas who have not yet received any food aid, leaving them without any food for at least two days. The immediate priority is therefore to provide food and drinking water to these people.
The second most urgent task for the government is to repair the Harinkhola embankment which was badly damaged, allowing saline water to come in. The civil surgeon of Khulna has warned that such huge quantities of saline water entering the areas are causing waterborne diseases, with a crisis in drinking water inevitable. Unless the embankment is repaired on an urgent basis, it will become uninhabitable. Where will all these people go?
We hope that the administration is accelerating its efforts in these areas as these people need to physically survive, rebuild their homes, get back their cattle (shifted to another upazila during the cyclone) and basically start their lives from scratch. Prompt interventions are crucial.