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Cablegate: Usaid/Ofda Cyclone Sidr Situation Report #8: Usaid/Dart's

VZCZCXRO1850
OO RUEHCI
DE RUEHKA #1879/01 3361354
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
O 021354Z DEC 07
FM AMEMBASSY DHAKA
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 5698
INFO RUEHKT/AMEMBASSY KATHMANDU 9400
RUEHCI/AMCONSUL KOLKATA 1038
RUEHNE/AMEMBASSY NEW DELHI 0329
RUEHGO/AMEMBASSY RANGOON 2616
RUEHLM/AMEMBASSY COLOMBO 8194
RUEHBK/AMEMBASSY BANGKOK 8291
RUEHIL/AMEMBASSY ISLAMABAD 1923
RUEHRO/AMEMBASSY ROME 0417
RUEHGV/USMISSION GENEVA 0598
RUCNDT/USMISSION USUN NEW YORK 0048
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 03 DHAKA 001879

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 Sidr Situation Report #8: USAID/DART's
Water, Sanitation, and Hygiene Advisor Assesses Remote
Cyclone-Affected Areas


DHAKA 00001879 001.2 OF 003


1. Summary. From November 28 to December 2, the water, sanitation,
and hygiene (WASH) advisor from USAID's Disaster Assistance Response
Team (USAID/DART), along with a USAID/DART communications officer
and staff from USAID/Bangladesh, traveled to cyclone-affected areas
in Barisal, Patuakhali, Khulna, and Barguna districts. Through
ongoing assessments, the USAID/DART is identifying potential gaps in
relief efforts and opportunities for transition to recovery and
rehabilitation phases of the response. The USAID/DART reports that
the Government of Bangladesh (GOB) is meeting the most immediate
food and water needs in central, more accessible areas. However,
GOB and non-governmental organization (NGO) assistance is
interspersed and less coordinated throughout more remote areas, such
as communities along the Bhola River west of Sarankhola town, Khulna
District and the coastal areas and islands south of the
Kalapara/Patharghata parallel, which are accessible only by boat.
Affected populations in these areas continue to require emergency
relief commodities. The USAID/DART WASH advisor recommends focusing
humanitarian assistance on remote populations with less access to
relief and services. Immediate interventions should include more
regular food distributions of higher quantities, continued water
purification assistance, and provision of additional relief
commodities including clothes and cooking utensils. The USAID/DART
advisor recommends that medium-term assistance begins immediately
and focuses on recovery assistance, such as seeds, tools, and
livelihood assets, cash availability to increase purchasing power,
shelter assistance, and rehabilitation of WASH infrastructure. End
summary.

---------------------------------------------
USAID/DART COVERAGE OF CYCLONE-AFFECTED AREAS
---------------------------------------------

2. From November 28 to December 2, the USAID/DART WASH Advisor and
USAID/Bangladesh traveled to Muladee community north of Barisal
town, Sarankhola town in Khulna District, Galachipa town in
Patuakhali District, and a number of island and coastal areas south
of 21030Q between Kalapara and Patharghata towns. [Note. These
areas include Nashabara, Kalapara ferry crossing, S. Jalikari,
Newpara, Taltoli, Bariatoli, Jalbhanga, Lotakota, Bainshamptru,
Amtoli, Chonmoni, and Lakutola. End note]

-----------------------
USAID/DART OBSERVATIONS
-----------------------

3. In areas with humanitarian access, priority needs identified by
GOB officials and affected populations include shelter; cash to
increase purchasing power; livelihood assistance such as boat
repair, productive asset restoration, and provision of seeds and
tools; and provision of emergency relief commodities including
clothes and cooking utensils. In more remote areas, which are
accessible only by boat, GOB officials and affected communities have
prioritized continued food distribution as an urgent need.
Additionally, communities have identified the need for clean water
through purification, rehabilitation of damaged water points, and
cleaning of ponds. Finally, shelter, livelihoods interventions,
incoming generating activities, and the distribution of emergency
relief commodities can help meet immediate needs.

4. The USAID/DART reported that the GOB is effectively providing

DHAKA 00001879 002.2 OF 003


food distributions during the emergency phase. Populations in most
areas the USAID/DART visited have received a minimum of 3 to 5
kilograms of rice. NGOs are providing rations, such as oil, pulses,
sugar, and salt, that complement the GOB program. However, this
assistance has not covered all affected areas. The GOB plans to
continue providing rice distributions until March. In addition, the
GOB has announced its Vulnerable Group Feeding (VGF) program,
pledging approximately 2.8 million cards, where each family will
receive one card. As of December 1, a limited number of people
reportedly have received cards. Given the logistical challenges of
delivering food commodities to remote areas, it remains uncertain
how effective and widespread the VGF program will be. In some
areas, the VGF program is scheduled to deliver food to less than 30
percent of the population. Although NGOs have filled many gaps,
coordination remains a humanitarian challenge particularly in remote
areas. GOB officials suggest the need to fill additional gaps,
especially in logistics. The USAID/DART reported that although food
distributions throughout affected areas remain uneven and
uncoordinated, there have been no reports of acute malnutrition due
to food scarcity.

5. In large towns and other accessible locations, the GOB is
ensuring clean water, principally with water purification units. In
Sarankhola Upazilla, Cyclone Sidr damaged 113 out of 215 Pond Sand
Filtration (PSF) systems, which are designed to treat pond water.
Six water purification units, half of which are mobile, are
currently satisfying humanitarian water needs. In the medium term,
the USAID/DART advisor recommends repairing the PSF systems.

6. In more remote areas, the GOB and the U.N. Children's Fund
(UNICEF) have provided water purification tablets. On the islands
and coastal areas of Galachipa Upazilla, as well as the islands
south of the Kalapara/Patharghata parallel, reports suggest damage
to more than 615 tube wells, or approximately 50 percent of existing
wells. Additionally, the impact of the cyclone led to contaminated
open ponds previously used for water consumption. Along the Bhola
River to the west of Sarankhola, the GOB suggests significant water
needs. Throughout these areas, residents are purifying river water
or contaminated pond water with the tablets. The GOB has not yet
reported outbreaks of water-borne diseases; however, health risks
will inevitably increase without additional distribution of
purification tablets along with water point rehabilitation and
cleaning.

7. Although a local GOB official suggested that the impact of the
cyclone damaged nearly 13,000 latrines, USAID/DART assessments are
not consistent with this figure. Many latrines were indeed washed
away by the cyclone; however, latrine coverage prior to the cyclone
was not robust. On the peninsula south and southwest of Barguna
town, many temporary settlements of 10,000 to 15,000 people reside
along the roadside to wait for water logging to reside. In
addition, these populations fear that assistance will not reach them
off of the main road. NGOs are currently providing food, water, and
minimal latrine coverage, but are encouraging people to move back to
home villages without delay.

8. Other than rice distributions and cash pledges, the USAID/DART
has witnessed limited GOB deliveries of relief commodities in the
field. NGOs have strategically distributed water containers
throughout cyclone-affected areas; however, aid agencies have

DHAKA 00001879 003.2 OF 003


attempted to meet other needs, such as clothes and cooking utensils,
in a more ad hoc fashion. Even though goods from neighboring
districts are pouring into markets, purchasing power remains limited
for poorer households.

9. The USAID/DART reported protection issues, especially in
temporary camps and settlements where humanitarian sanitation
infrastructure is limited. Additionally, in many areas, people do
not have sufficient articles of clothing. At these locations, women
are forced to bathe at night, thereby raising protection concerns.


--------------------------
USAID/DART RECOMMENDATIONS
--------------------------

10. Continued food assistance from international donors should be
coordinated and should target remote, inaccessible areas. The
USAID/DART recommends focusing logistical support to ensure food
delivery to isolated, outlying areas. In addition, the
mainstreaming of one month food rations could reduce logistical
costs.

11. Continued WASH assessments should focus on remote areas.
Short-term assistance should ensure adequate water purification
mechanisms, such as provision of clean water in central areas as
well as distribution of water purification tablets in remote areas
where drinking ponds are contaminated, water infrastructure is
damaged, and people are drinking river water. Medium-term water
assistance should include rehabilitation of damaged WASH
infrastructure and cleaning of ponds.

12. Cash distributions and cash-for-work can be considered to
assist people in addressing needs such as shelter, livelihoods, and
emergency relief goods. The USAID/DART livelihoods advisor will
elaborate further on appropriate livelihoods interventions [see
septel].

13. The USAID/DART recommends continued attention on protection
issues.


PASI

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