Following last week’s tornado that destroyed 35 villages in northwest Bangladesh, ActionAid is sending a doctor and disability rehabilitation experts to the region. The team will devise a programme of post-hospital care to reduce the risk of disability for people injured by the storm, and will also present recommendations to government and other agencies on behalf of newly disabled people.
Whilst summer storms, tornadoes and cyclones occur frequently between March and June, the tornado is calculated to be the third largest in Bangladesh history. It ripped through the Netrakona and Mymenshing districts at 7.30pm on Wednesday 14 April, killing 100 people and seriously injuring 800. At least 3,500 families lost everything, and many hundreds more have been affected, with their livestock killed and crops destroyed in this predominantly poor rural region.
ActionAid has been able to allocate some money from its own rapid response fund, but is seeking to increase its programme with funding from the European Commission Humanitarian Office (ECHO). If the agency receives its full request of 165,000 euros, it aims to expand its post-hospital and psychosocial care programme and also to help rebuild the lives of 1,400 of the poorest families with house reconstruction grants, cattle provision and the distribution of seeds and plants.
ActionAid Bangladesh spokesperson, Khurshid Alam said: “ActionAid has worked in Netrakona for many years and has a strong relationship with local community organisations. Whilst immediate relief has got through, we are looking to help with longer-term rehabilitation and reconstruction. Enabling people to rebuild their lives over the months and years to come is as important as ensuring short-term survival.”
The agency has previously received funding from DipECHO, the disaster preparedness arm of the humanitarian office, for flood and earthquake preparedness programmes in the southeast and far north of Bangladesh. They have also implemented an intensive community based cyclone preparedness programme with funding support from DipECHO.