100,000 lives saved, but the catastrophe is just beginning for Bangladesh

“More than 3 million people are thought to have been affected by the cyclone.”
Published: 20 November 2007

Early warning systems and shelters saved an estimated 100,000 lives in last week’s Cyclone Sidr, but Oxfam is warning that without a massive international response the country faces its worst humanitarian crisis in decades.

Devastation of the country’s agriculture from both the cyclone in the south and this summer’s severe floods in the north have led to increasing food prices, while fuel prices have rocketed by 50 per cent.

The early warning systems, introduced over the last 15 years, new cyclone shelters and better planning has meant that more than 100,000 people were saved from the immediate impacts of last week’s cyclone – compared to the loss of life in a similar cyclone in 1991. But with the country’s agriculture in ruins vast numbers of people are now threatened with food shortages.

More than 3 million people are thought to have been affected by the cyclone, with around 3,000 people dead, and a similar number missing, 273,000 homes have been destroyed and more than 900,000 damaged, while 855,000 acres of crops have been damaged and nearly 30,000 acres completely destroyed according to government figures.

Heather Blackwell, Oxfam’s country representative for Bangladesh said: “Across huge areas there is no food except what is dropped in by helicopters.

“There are so many people without homes or basic sanitation, and who are now likely to be unable to get food, that Bangladesh is facing its most serious humanitarian disaster in many decades.

“Many thousands were saved by better planning, but cholera and malnutrition may have devastating impacts if aid does not arrive soon.”

These Oxfam affiliates have launched appeals to help relieve the problems affecting the country:

Oxfam America

Oxfam Australia

Oxfam Canada

Oxfam Germany

Oxfam GB

Oxfam New Zealand

Oxfam Solidarité (Belgium)

Oxfam has been working with local partners since Cyclone Sidr struck on Thursday (15 November), with teams in the worst-hit southern districts of Bagerhat, Pirojpur, Barguna and Patuakhali assessing and providing urgent relief such as sanitation and food and water.

The money raised from our appeals will be used to continue to provide relief such as essential sanitation, food and water, shelter, well and latrine cleaning, and debris clearing, as well as helping people get back on their feet.

Notes to Editors

1. Cyclone Sidr hit Bangladesh at around 8pm on Thurs 15 Nov.

2. Oxfam’s partners have been working in Bagerhat, Pirojpur, Barguna and Patuakhali – some of the worst hit districts.

Oxfam works with others to overcome poverty and injustice.

Contact Information

For more information please contact:

Chloe Powell +44 1865 472 359 chloe@oxfam.org.nz

Ian Bray +44 1865 472498 or +44 7721 461339 Ibray@oxfam.org.uk

Rob McNeil 01865 472334, 07909 860370 rmcneil@oxfam.org.uk

For more information on the ground please contact:

Heather Blackwell + 880 02 8813607-9, Mobile: + 880 (0)171 3011114 (in
Dhaka)

Aditi Kapoor +91 98 10 306200 (in Delhi)