Cyclone Aila hit the Bangladesh / India border on Monday 25 May 2009 causing widespread destruction. Millions are thought to have been affected.
Cyclone Aila has caused substantial damage across areas of southern Bangladesh and West Bengal.
Much of the damage was caused by massive flooding, which has contaminated drinking water sources with seawater and killed the fish that people rear in the freshwater ponds. This will affect people's livelihoods in the long run.
As Zubin Zaman, Oxfam India's Program Manager, pointed out, "The ponds are a lifeline - they give people drinking water, water to irrigate, and fish".
Most latrines have been washed away, and there is serious pollution from sewage and dead animals. The threat of water-borne epidemics is very high, including cholera, which is endemic throughout this area. The supply of safe drinking water is reaching crisis levels.
Hundreds of thousands of people are homeless, clustered into municipal buildings and schools, or are camping outside on higher ground.
What is Oxfam doing?
Oxfam is currently expanding its emergency response to reach 110,000 people in the most severely affected districts of Khulna and Shatkhira in south-west Bangladesh.
In cyclone-affected West Bengal, relief measures will benefit 10,000 households, with plans of reaching a further 10,000 more in the coming days.
In both India and Bangladesh we are providing temporary shelters (plastic sheeting, rope, bamboo poles), safe sanitation, environmental clean-up campaigns (paying and mobilising teams of people), and distributing essential hygiene items (jerry cans, buckets, anti-bacterial soap, sanitary cloths, oral rehydration).
We have two water treatment plants in Bangladesh which can produce 3,000 liters of safe drinking water per hour (at 15 liters each this would serve 200 people every hour). In both countries we have started emptying and cleaning out contaminated ponds, and raising tube-wells above water levels.
These Oxfam affiliate organizations have launched appeals for this crisis:
Oxfam Great Britain
You can also make a donation to the general emergency fund of your nearest national Oxfam affiliate. Your money will be used to fund our emergency work worldwide, which includes responding in countries such as Bangladesh.