Cyclone survivors in Bangladesh are now facing a severe risk of disease as the supply of safe drinking water is reaching crisis levels, international aid agency Oxfam said today. Cyclone Aila hit the coast of Bangladesh on 25 May, affecting 3.6m people and leaving over 750,000 people homeless.
The full picture of the devastation caused by the cyclone is only now emerging. Salt water has contaminated nearly all the fresh water sources in the southwest of the country and has damaged around one third in central and southeastern districts.
The sanitation systems have collapsed in all the cyclone-affected areas and in addition human, animal and fish corpses are polluting the countryside.
Heather Blackwell, head of Oxfam in Bangladesh, said: “The cyclone-affected areas of Bangladesh are now an ideal breeding ground for all kinds of diseases. In many areas all the sources of fresh water have been polluted by the sea water, forcing people to drink dirty water. This has already made thousands of people sick. Without urgent action many more will fall ill.
“The government of Bangladesh is trying to cope with the problem and has already asked for foreign aid to help. Oxfam urges the international community to respond generously to help the cyclone victims.”
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.