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Cablegate: Usaid/Ofda Cyclone Sidhr Assessment Cable #1: Usaid/Ofda

VZCZCXRO1460
OO RUEHCI
DE RUEHKA #1815/01 3241837
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
O 201837Z NOV 07
FM AMEMBASSY DHAKA
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 5583
INFO RUEHKT/AMEMBASSY KATHMANDU 9343
RUEHCI/AMCONSUL KOLKATA 0984
RUEHNE/AMEMBASSY NEW DELHI 0274
RUEHGO/AMEMBASSY RANGOON 2586
RUEHLM/AMEMBASSY COLOMBO 8150
RUEHBK/AMEMBASSY BANGKOK 8239
RUEHIL/AMEMBASSY ISLAMABAD 1879
RUEHRO/AMEMBASSY ROME 0377
RUEHGV/USMISSION GENEVA 0560
RUCNDT/USMISSION USUN NEW YORK
RUEKJCS/SECDEF WASHINGTON DC
RUEKDIA/JOINT STAFF WASHINGTON DC
RHHMUNA/USCINCPAC HONOLULU HI
RHHMUNA/CDR USPACOM HONOLULU HI
RHEHNSC/NSC WASHDC
RUEKDIA/DIA WASHINGTON DC
RUEAIIA/CIA WASHINGTON DC
RUEATRS/DEPT OF TREASURY WASHINGTON DC

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 02 DHAKA 001815

SIPDIS

SIPDIS

DEPT FOR SES-O
DEPT FOR SCA/PB, SCA/EX
DCHA/OFDA FOR ROBERT THAYER
AID/W FOR AA MARK WARD AND ANE ANNE DIX
DCHA/FFP FOR MATTHEW NIMS AND PAUL NOVICK
ROME FOR FODAG
BANGKOK FOR RDM/A TOM DOLAN, ROB BARTON
KATHMANDU FOR USAID OFDA BILL BERGER AND SUE MCINTYRE
TREASURY FOR ELIZABETH WEISS AND SUSAN CHUN

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: EAID PREL ASEC CASC AMGT SOCI ECON PINR EAGR SENV
BG
SUBJECT: USAID/OFDA Cyclone Sidhr Assessment Cable #1: USAID/OFDA
Team Arrives in Dhaka, Bangladesh

REF: A) DHAKA 1801 B) DHAKA 1797 C) STATE 157623 D) DHAKA 1796 E)
DHAKA-WASHINGTON EMAIL SITREPS OF NOVEMBER 15-17, 2007

1. Summary. Heavy rainfall from Tropical Cyclone Sidr has caused
severe flooding and destroyed crops and houses throughout southern
Bangladesh, resulting in the death of 2,625 people and affecting
more than 4 million others, according to the Government of
Bangladesh (GOB) and the U.N. World Food Program (WFP). On November
16, 2007, U.S. Charge d'Affaires Geeta Pasi declared a disaster due
to widespread damage from Cyclone Sidr. On November 17 and 19, a
team from USAID's Office of U.S. Foreign Disaster Assistance
(USAID/OFDA) arrived in Dhaka, Bangladesh. In conjunction with
USAID/Bangladesh, the U.S. Embassy in Dhaka, the U.S. Department of
Defense (DOD), U.N. agencies, non-governmental organizations (NGOs),
and the GOB, the five-person USAID/OFDA team is assessing the extent
of damage caused by Cyclone Sidr, identifying gaps in humanitarian
assistance, and coordinating U.S. Government (USG) efforts. As of
November 20, USAID/OFDA has provided more than $2.5 million to
assist cyclone-affected populations in Bangladesh, including an
airlift of emergency relief supplies from USAID/OFDA's warehouse in
Dubai and four new water treatment units. End Summary.

---------------------------------------------
IMPACT OF CYCLONE SIDR AND HUMANITARIAN NEEDS
---------------------------------------------

2. On November 15, 2007, Tropical Cyclone Sidhr made landfall in
southern Bangladesh with winds of 155 miles per hour. Rainfall from
the storms led to widespread flooding, damaged infrastructure, and
destroyed crops throughout the southern coastal districts,
particularly impacting Barguna and Pathuakhali as it tracked across
central Bangladesh. As of November 19, the impact of the cyclone
had killed 2,625 people, led to the disappearance of 2,062 others,
and damaged more than 9 million homes, according to the GOB's
Disaster Management Bureau. These causalities and reports of
damaged houses, livestock, fisheries, and crops are expected to
increase significantly as more information becomes available with
ongoing humanitarian assessments.

3. Preliminary reports indicate that the most critical humanitarian
needs include food, shelter, and water, sanitation, and hygiene
interventions. Cyclone-affected populations also need non-food
relief items, such as blankets, plastic sheeting, water containers,
and hygiene and health kits. WFP is evaluating and responding to
emergency food needs. In addition, the U.N. Food and Agriculture
Organization is assisting vulnerable populations to resume
livelihoods activities, targeting procurement for the next planting
season, the distribution of fertilizer, and the fishing and shrimp
industries.

--------------------------------------------- ---------
USAID/OFDA RESPONSE: ARRIVAL OF USAID/OFDA TEAM IN DHAKA
--------------------------------------------- ---------

4. On November 17, USAID/OFDA's Regional Advisor arrived in Dhaka
within 36 hours of Cyclone Sidr's landfall in Bangladesh. On
November 19, USAID/OFDA's shelter and livelihoods advisor, military
liaison officer, information officer, and water, sanitation, and
hygiene advisor also arrived in Dhaka. The team is monitoring the
humanitarian situation, conducting assessments of cyclone-affected
areas, identifying gaps in assistance, and coordinating relief
efforts with USAID/Bangladesh, DOD, U.N. agencies, NGOs, and the

DHAKA 00001815 002 OF 002


GOB.

5. In response to the disaster declaration on November 16,
USAID/OFDA provided an initial $100,000 through USAID/Bangladesh to
NGOs for various emergency relief activities. In addition,
USAID/OFDA has allocated $1 million for emergency relief activities
and an additional $1 million to the International Federation of the
Red Cross for humanitarian interventions in shelter and water,
sanitation, and hygiene.

6. On November 19, USAID/OFDA, together with USAID/Bangladesh and
U.S. Pacific Command, conducted an aerial assessment of
cyclone-affected areas in southern Bangladesh. The team witnessed
widespread destruction of paddy fields, decimated trees, and few
standing buildings in some villages. The USAID/OFDA team will
participate in additional assessments in the coming days, focusing
primarily on humanitarian needs in shelter and water, sanitation,
and hygiene.

7. On November 20, USAID/OFDA airlifted emergency relief supplies to
Dhaka, including 300 rolls of plastic sheeting, 5,000 blankets,
2,500 10-liter water containers, and 2,500 hygiene kits. These
commodities, valued at more than $252,000 including transport, will
provide assistance to approximately 15,000 cyclone-affected people.
The USAID/OFDA team is coordinating the distribution of the
emergency relief commodities through implementing NGO partners CARE
and Save the Children.

--------------------------------
USG AND INTERNATIONAL ASSISTANCE
--------------------------------

8. On November 20, USAID Administrator Henrietta Fore arrived in
Bangladesh to discuss USG relief efforts, visit affected areas, and
attend meetings with high-level host government officials, U.N.
agencies, and other humanitarian actors responding to the cyclone.
She also participated in the handover of USAID/OFDA's airlifted
emergency relief commodities to assist cyclone-affected populations.
On behalf of the President of the United States and the American
people, Administrator Fore expressed her condolences to the victims
of Cyclone Sidr in Bangladesh.

9. Through U.S. Pacific Command, DOD is actively engaged in the
humanitarian response to Cyclone Sidr. On November 19, a 23-member
Humanitarian Assistance Survey Team (HAST) arrived in Dhaka to begin
assessment of possible U.S. military support for the humanitarian
operation. On November 20, nine members of the HAST visited
affected areas in Khulna and Barisal Divisions to identify areas
where military support may be appropriate. The HAST plans to
conduct further assessments in the coming days.

10. Local media reported that U.N. agencies and donor nations have
pledged more than $142 million for cyclone-affected populations.
Saudi Arabia alone is providing $100 million, while WFP, the U.N.
Children's Fund (UNICEF), the U.S., Australia, the U.K.,
Switzerland, China, India, Pakistan, Canada, and Japan have also
offered assistance. On November 20, the Japanese Government
airlifted 466 boxes of relief commodities, including tents, plastic
sheeting, and blankets, to Bangladesh.
PASI

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