November 17, 2007

How can you help Bangladesh cyclone victims?

I have seen the overwhelming concern of the international citizens over the devastations of the Sidr cyclone that battered Bangladesh leading to a death toll of thousands (now more than 3500), 95% loss of crops in the devastated areas, almost a million destroyed houses made more than four millions homeless and many more miseries to follow. The people were only recuperating from the loss from the devastating floods in the northern part of the country a few months ago.

The Bangladesh Government is doing their best with its limited resources. Its a tough job to cater relief to 3 million homeless people. This will put great pressure on the government, the economy, and the people themselves.

The International community is lending their hands pledging millions:

- The biggest local NGO has released $1 million in their relief efforts.

- The United Nations has pledged several millions of dollars in aid.

- The European Commission said it is sending $2.2m in emergency relief to Bangladesh.

- Germany has released $293,000 in emergency relief aid to Bangladesh. The money will go to German relief organizations working in cooperation with local partners to alleviate suffering caused by Cyclone Sidr.

- Government of Ireland announced that Irish Aid will make up to €500,000 available to assist those affected by the devastating cyclone in Bangladesh.

- The World Food Programme sent 98 metric tons of emergency food rations for 400,000 people.

- International Federation of Red Crescent has allocated CHF 250,000 from the Federation’s Disaster Relief Emergency Fund (DREF) to respond to urgent needs ahead of the results and recommendations of ongoing assessments.

- The International NGOs in Bangladesh like World Vision are already active in relief and rescue efforts.

Now have you noticed that most of these aid will find their way through the different NGOs working in Bangladesh? This has been a trend after the 1988 flood because earlier aid was distributed through Government channel and massive corruption due to lack of professional expertise and mismanagement occurred and the needy did not get the relief.

Individual people like Sheril are willing to do something:

Now I am appealing to the international community how they can do their bit in helping Bangladesh. First we need to understand the requirements of the victims of the cyclone:

- Provide shelters and food for those who are displaced/lost their homes.

- Rehabilitation efforts - rebuilding houses - aid in building materials and food for work projects will work best.

- Provide earning for them - rescue the damaged crops and give them loan to work on the next cultivation.

- Keep the nations economy in full swing for the government to recover the loss.

What the international community can do? Just donating some money to any organization may not be the effective way.

- Appeal to your Government to lend a hand to Bangladesh. Encourage them to pledge some long term and fruitful steps like building/maintenance of more cyclone shelters across the coastal areas (you have seen how they save lives) or some sophisticated early warning systems.

- Can any Government help Bangladesh have sophisticated equipments in the met office? Can any organization help build more met offices across the country?

- Help Bangladesh economy recuperate. Appeal to your Government to stop imposing any restrictions on import of Bangladeshi products. It is not a dumping issue. Countries like China has cheap products because of economies of scale. But in Bangladesh its because of cheap labor which earns livelihood for millions of workers and their families. If they are out of job then we have another humanitarian crisis adding to this.

- Appeal to your business community to help Bangladesh economy by importing more of Bangladeshi products or investing in Bangladesh.

- Buy a Bangladeshi product! I am sure you will find a cloth "Made in Bangladesh" in your local chain shop. They may be not impeccable but I can promise you that they have a high standard. If you buy more cloths it will prompt Bangladesh to export more, setting up more clothing related industries, employ more workers who are unemployed now and help Bangladesh make up the economic loss of the devastation of Sidr. And you can be proud that you have played a part in it.

- Buy a Jute product from Bangladesh. The natural fiber is environment friendly and cheap.

- Choose aid organizations wisely. You better would like to know where your money ends up (even it is a small amount). Is it spent for the victims or the new SUV for the local NGO? Are you sure this is not a fake religious NGO who may use it for their political causes?

- The best is to collect fund from the community and dedicate this to some specific causes. Say a cyclone shelter may need USD 10000-20000 to build. If say 200-1000 people can raise this fund and give it to some organization to build the shelter then they may save hundreds of thousands of people from the cyclones in future for say 30-40 years. What a better way to use your asset?

More efforts:

Dristipat has details to mobilize public effort and how and where to donate.

Power blogger Andrew Sullivan appeals to help Bangladesh.

- Association for Bangladeshi Students: Virginia Tech

- Reaching out to Sidr Victims

- Help Bangladesh

- Sidr - what you can do

- BRAC = ACTION, Staff quickly respond to help, What You Can Do

- Different ways to donate


- Sidr News update -Bangladesh Red Crescent Society Sunday said the death toll from cyclone Sidr may touch 10,000 (official death toll surpassed 2,200 Sunday and is nearing 3,000 by the end of Monday. A government official declared the disaster "a national calamity").

The demon that was in the cyclone Sidr.

The forgotten Operation Sea Angel by the US Navy

The aftermath of Hurricane Sidr: signs of progress?

Sidr strikes Bangladesh

Cyclone Sidr: Blogger experiences and reactions


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