Shelter main priority for cyclone Aila survivors in Bangladesh

Water supply systems and latrines have been destroyed by the floods as well, increasing the spread of diarrhoea and other communicable diseases. Lacking clean drinking water, people use the same water they relieve themselves in for bathing, washing and sometimes drinking.

One month after cyclone Aila struck Bangladesh and the eastern Indian state of West Bengal, people continue to suffer from ongoing floods during high tide. Shelter, drinking water, food and sanitation are badly needed. People in remote areas have reportedly still not received any help yet.

“People are up to their necks in the water,” tells Rivkah van Barneveld, who is coordinating the emergency response in West Bengale. “Houses are either destroyed or flooded, most people can’t sleep dry. With the monsoon arriving very soon, shelter is one of the main priorities. MSF is providing families with plastic sheeting and blankets.”

MSF is distributing relief items, provides basic health care and is checking and repairing water sources, assisting around 75,000 people in Bangladesh and 15,000 people in India who are affected by the aftermath of the cyclone.

Ongoing flooding

The floodwater destroyed the houses, livestock, shrimp farms and agricultural lands. People live in makeshift shelters on the remaining parts of the embankments. Some villages continue to get flooded twice a day during high tide.

Skin infections and diarrhoea

Water supply systems and latrines have been destroyed by the floods as well, increasing the spread of diarrhoea and other communicable diseases. Lacking clean drinking water, people use the same water they relieve themselves in for bathing, washing and sometimes drinking.

Pre-existing health facilities in India are functioning relatively well. In the Bangladeshi flood-affected areas, MSF is running mobile clinics.

“We’ve visited ten different sites so far and see about 250 people a day, mainly for diarrhea or skin infections," said Megan Hunter, Emergency coordinator. "MSF is distributing soap, buckets and chlorination tablets and shows people how to use them.”

In the next days, an additional emergency team with a water and sanitation specialist as well as medical staff and logisticians will travel to Bangladesh.