Water needs are the priority in Bangladesh

Three MSF teams have been assessing the areas most affected by the cyclone. About 15 people, including medical and logistical staff, are currently in Bohla, Patuakhali, Jhalakati, Pirojpur and Bagherat districts in the south of Bangladesh, assessing the situation and the most urgent needs for the population affected by the cyclone.

The most affected places are the islands and the areas around the seashore, in the far south of Bangladesh.

"In Galachipa, about 80 percent of the houses have been destroyed and people have lost almost all their belongings," reports Tony Marchant, an MSF logistician who assessed the islands of Galachipa, an an area of around 300,000 inhabitants located in Patuakhali district.

Damages are considerable but there has been a good local response to this emergency since it occurred on November 15. Distributions of food and shelters are underway. At the medical level, the response from the authorities and local NGOs so far have been sufficient to cover the main needs. Mobile clinics are active and local health structures are functioning.

As a first response, MSF teams have donated some medical material and plastic sheeting in remote areas. 1,000 kits of basic items, including soap, towels, clothing, kitchen utensils, jerrycans, buckets, will be distributed to affected families.

"In the islands we visited, water sources have been contaminated and latrines have been flooded," said Marchant. "People have to look for undamaged sources or even drink unclean water. Access to drinkable water is a common concern in these areas, but the cyclone made the situation even worse."

In order to improve the population's access to drinking water, MSF will now send six tonnes of water and sanitation material from Brussels to Bangladesh, including water pumps and chlorination material. In addition, a logistician is being despatched to reinforce the team.