Enormous needs dominate current MSF activities

Bhuj, Feb 6, 2001 - Before the earthquake struck, Bhachau was a city with a population of 65,000. Since the earthquake, it has been emptying as survivors who have the means and funds have left for the safety of other regions. Those left behind are often the poor and those incapable of travel.

North-east of Bhuj

Two MSF teams, composed of one logistician and one medical person in each, conducted assessments of local villages to the north-east of Bhuj prior to Tuesday's scheduled goods distribution. A total of 14 villages are scheduled to be visited.

Due to a lack of family tents, MSF has begun distribution of plastic sheeting, blankets, collapsible water cans and rope. Each family is given 24 sq meters of plastic sheeting to provide them immediate, temporary shelter.

MSF's working strategy is to complete the needs in the selected villages before moving on to others, ensuring maximum cooperation and minimal duplication among the NGOs working in the region.

Based on experiences to date, MSF staff now have a more detailed questionnaire for each village, concerning:

  • the different castes in the village. MSF distributes materials separately to each of the leaders.
  • if other organisations have already donated supplies and what kind of donations have occurred.
  • a physical inspection of the whole village, living conditions, current available shelter and the like.

    Nearly all the villages in this region have been totally destroyed. People are still not working, except some farmers. Schools are not working. There are no markets and just a few small kiosks have started to sell things again, but on a very limited scale.

    "The needs here are simply enormous, whole villages have been
    flattened by the quake and, more than ten days after the earthquake,
    people are still sleeping in the streets, or sit huddled around fires
    to keep warm at night," said David Trevino, an MSF logistician. "It will take a long time before these people can achieve something like a normal life. In the meantime, they are dependent on the tents and blankets that we bring them."

    A few villages are adopted an ad hoc political organisation and try to cover the village with the items needed. There is food distribution to all these villages on an irregular, but sufficient, basis. Water was not a problem in any village.

    The Indian army has started to clean the roads in the villages. In some of the villages, electricity has been restored.

    All the villages receive medical care by outreach teams on a daily
    basis. Most of the mobile teams are doctors and nurses from all over India. In general, there is sufficient medical material.