CRS Commits Initial $50,000 to Bangladesh Cyclone Relief Efforts
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
DHAKA, BANGLADESH (NOVEMBER 16, 2007) - Catholic Relief Services (CRS) has committed an initial $50,000 to relief efforts across the cyclone-affected areas of Bangladesh as its partners' emergency field staff make their way to areas slammed by the super cyclonic storm.
According to field reports, the most affected districts are Barisal, Borguna, Pirozpur, Jhalokathi, Bhola, Luxmipur, Patualkhali, Bagerhat, Sathkhra and Cox's Bazar. Telecommunications infrastructure is badly damaged and communication with field staff is difficult. Large-scale damage has occurred to standing Robi (winter) crops, kutcha (not concrete) houses and semi-pucca (concrete) houses.
"Based on what we are hearing from our field staff, dry food rations, drinking water, shelter and blankets are the priority items. Many of our staff spent the night in the shelters and have a clear idea of the situation, but it is difficult to reach them by telephone and the road network is damaged," said Cassie Dummett, CRS Bangladesh program manager, in Dhaka.
CRS/Caritas Bangladesh field workers are talking with communities to identify survival needs, and communicating with local vendors to work out supply routes, all in close collaboration with the local government.
Identified needs include:
Dry food rations: Due to damage in waterlogged areas, fishing communities and day laborers have lost their sources of income, and most are too poor to have alternative food stocks.
Tarps/Plastic Sheeting, Blankets, Bed Mats: Thousands of homes have been damaged and the weather is still windy and wet. November through February are the coldest months, and fuel and firewood will be scarce.
Drinking Water: The coastal areas suffer from chronic drinking water shortages, and the tidal surge contaminated wells, ponds and other clean water sources. People practice rainwater harvesting but their earthenware pots have been smashed.
Food Security: With winter crops (vegetables, pulses, peanuts, oil seeds) destroyed, long-term food availability will suffer.
Before the cyclone, CRS/Caritas volunteers and staff disseminated warning messages using loud hailers. Field and regional offices also pre-positioned stocks of water cans and water purification tablets, and made agreements with vendors for food supplies. CRS has been implementing a two-year Capacity Building in Disaster Management program with Caritas Bangladesh, and emergency teams are trained in Sphere and international standards, the Code of Conduct, assessment methods and tools.
How to Help:
Donate via phone: 1-877-HELP-CRS
Donate online: www.crs.org
Write a check: Catholic Relief Services
P.O. Box 17090
Baltimore, Maryland 21203-7090
Memo portion of check: South Asia Severe Weather Fund
Catholic Relief Services
http://www.crs.org MD, US
John Rivera - Senior Writer, 410 951-7399
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