In May 2020, when West Bengal and Odisha was reeling under the impact of coronavirus pandemic, the coastal regions of the state were hit by a second disaster – cyclone Amphan. The cyclone had a devastating impact on the lives and livelihoods of the thousands of individuals living in this region. The entire coastal area of the states was severely destroyed by a day-long wind blowing at as wind speed of approx..200 km per hour. People lost their homes, personal belongings and large areas of river embankments were also damaged.
Without wasting much time, Welthungerhilfe jointly with Alliance 2015 supported its partner SRAN to reach out to these vulnerable communities and support them under immediate humanitarian aid. Here are some anecdotes from the field:
Munnaf Laskar, a resident of Alipore, Kakdwip, is one among many, who lost his house during the devastating cyclone. A few years ago, Munnaf lost his leg in a near-fatal accident while driving his three-wheeler, his only source of income. Additionally, the small patch of agricultural land which he owns was damaged by saline water making it unsuitable for growing any type of crops. And as expected, Munnaf fell into the hands of poverty and despair. As part of the Amphan relief initiatives of SRAN, Munnaf was identified as an essential beneficiary to help him rebuild his life with the humble support. Munnaf received a shelter kit which he could call home.
Swapan Naskar, from Kaikhali, Kultali Block is a migrant worker from the Sundarbans coastal area of West Bengal. During Covid-19 and subsequent lockdowns, thousands of migrant daily wage workers lost their jobs over night. Several of them came back to their native places and Swapan was also one of them. He and his family of six were unable to find any new source of livelihoods. While they were trying to explore new income options, cycle Amphan struck the Sundarbans. For 50-year old Swapan and his wife Purnima Naskar, 43 years, it became difficult to survive. It was during this time, when SRAN extended their support and provided them with dry ration kits to meet their immediate and basic food requirement. The kit contained 5 kgs of rice, 5kgs of flour, 1 kg of mustard oil, 1km of sugar, 1kg of pulses, 1kg of iodised salt, and mix of essential spices. With receipt of this kit, Purnima heaved a sigh of relief as she was now able to secure food for her family members for a considerable period.
Dipanjana Bera, a 20-year old girl from Bhubaneswari, Kultali Block lived with her parents and two siblings when the cyclone struck their lives. “The cyclone destroyed our village including our house. The saline water has damaged our ponds and croplands,” shares Dipanjana. She was one of the many whose worst nightmare had come true. Besides income and food, amenities for basic hygiene weren’t available, an essential necessity particularly during Covid-19. To help them, SRAN provided hygiene kit, containing of soaps, sanitary napkins, bleaching powder and face masks. A relief team from SRAN visited the area and identified Dipanjana as one of the beneficiaries under hygiene kit distribution under cyclone Amphan (Alliance) Project in India. A total of 1087 individual were identified and provided hygiene kits which helped them in keeping away from water borne diseases, as well as other contagious diseases.
Under this humanitarian assistance supported by Alliance 2015, the project was successful in reaching out to 10,000 individuals and 2887 households.