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Cablegate: Usaid/Ofda Cyclone Sidr Situation Report #2: Usaid/Dart's

VZCZCXRO3352
OO RUEHCI
DE RUEHKA #1830/01 3261317
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
O 221317Z NOV 07
FM AMEMBASSY DHAKA
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 5615
INFO RUEHKT/AMEMBASSY KATHMANDU 9362
RUEHCI/AMCONSUL KOLKATA 1003
RUEHNE/AMEMBASSY NEW DELHI 0295
RUEHGO/AMEMBASSY RANGOON 2598
RUEHLM/AMEMBASSY COLOMBO 8168
RUEHBK/AMEMBASSY BANGKOK 8252
RUEHIL/AMEMBASSY ISLAMABAD 1894
RUEHRO/AMEMBASSY ROME 0390
RUEHGV/USMISSION GENEVA 0573
RUCNDT/USMISSION USUN NEW YORK 0021
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 001830

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 #2: USAID/DART's
Initial Humanitarian Assessments on the Impact of Cyclone Sidr in
Southern Bangladesh

REF: A) DHAKA 1815

1. Summary. Storm surge from Tropical Cyclone Sidr has affected
more than 1.5 million families in Bangladesh as of November 22.
Although the Government of Bangladesh's (GOB) early warning and
preparedness programs have significantly reduced the humanitarian
impact of the cyclone, severe rainfall and strong winds from the
storm have caused nearly 3,000 reported deaths and extensive damage
to homes, property, agricultural fields, and fisheries. In order to
provide emergency assistance to Bangladesh, five staff members from
USAID's Office of U.S. Foreign Disaster Assistance (USAID/OFDA) are
currently in country as USAID's Disaster Assistance Response Team
(DART). In the coming days, five additional USAID/OFDA staff will
arrive in Bangladesh to support the U.S. Mission team in responding
to Cyclone Sidr. End Summary.

--------------------------------------------- ----
HUMANITARIAN CONDITIONS IN CYCLONE-AFFECTED AREAS
--------------------------------------------- ----

2. On November 15, 2007, Tropical Cyclone Sidr made landfall in
southern Bangladesh with winds of 155 miles per hour. Rainfall and
flooding resulting from the storm damaged infrastructure and
destroyed homes, particularly affecting the southern coastal
districts of Barguna, Bagerhat, Patuakhali, and Pirojpur. As of
November 21, the GOB's Disaster Management Bureau and the U.N. World
Food Program (WFP) reported that the cyclone had killed 2,982
people, led to the disappearance of 1,724 others, and damaged nearly
1.2 million homes. In addition, heavy rains from the storms
destroyed 1.6 million acres of agricultural lands, negatively
impacting local food security and livelihoods. As more information
becomes available through continuing humanitarian assessments, aid
agencies believe that actual numbers of people killed and missing
may be higher than GOB figures.

3. Aid organizations report that immediate needs vary from village
to village. While food and potable water are the most pressing
humanitarian needs for cyclone-affected families in coastal
districts, communities further inland need agricultural recovery and
livelihoods assistance. Coupled with the damage from the recent
floods and high prices of fuel on the international market, economic
devastation caused by Cyclone Sidr is impacting the livelihoods of
affected residents particularly in agricultural production and the
fishing industry.

4. Local media sources indicate that Bangladesh military relief
teams are currently reaching 70 percent of the affected areas.
However, access remains problematic for aid agencies gathering
information and distributing emergency relief supplies. For
example, in Bagerhat District, where victims of Cyclone Sidr are in
critical need of safe drinking water, aid agencies have confronted
difficulties in accessing affected communities. In addition,
non-governmental organizations (NGOs) report that several sandbar
islands in southern Bangladesh continue to experience drinking water
shortages, with islands off the coast of Patuakhali and Baufal
reporting acute water shortages. However, due to ongoing challenges
in accessing these areas, NGOs lack comprehensive information on
cyclone-affected communities living in the sandbar islands.

5. The USAID/DART team reports that food assistance remains one of
the most vital humanitarian concerns. WFP has committed 171 metric

DHAKA 00001830 002 OF 003


tons (MT) of high energy biscuits to Save the Children for
distribution to affected areas. The U.N. Children's Fund (UNICEF)
is also providing high energy biscuits for lactating mothers and
children under two years of age. WFP, the lead agency of the U.N.
food cluster, is currently drawing together information on emergency
food needs, which will become available in the coming days.

----------------------------------
USAID/DART ASSESSMENT AND RESPONSE
----------------------------------

6. Additional staff from USAID/OFDA will arrive in Dhaka to support
the U.S. Mission in Bangladesh. The USAID/DART Team Leader, a
program officer, food officer, communications officer, and an
administrative officer will arrive from November 22 to 25.

7. On November 21, the USAID/DART Acting Team Leader participated in
a helicopter assessment of cyclone-affected areas along with the
heads of diplomatic missions and international organizations. The
group observed the distribution of relief activities in Patharghata
upazila in Barguna District and Sharankhula upazila in Bagerhat
District and also conducted an aerial assessment of cyclone-affected
areas of Kalapara, Kuakata, and Sundarban. The regional advisor
witnessed widespread destruction due to Cyclone Sidr, including
decimated agricultural fields, destroyed homes, and trees snapped in
half. In the upazila of Patharghata, the Bangladesh military
reported that the cyclone affected approximately 985,000 people, who
have experienced significant loss of homes, livestock, and other
personal property. Immediate humanitarian needs include food,
potable water, shelter, and winter clothing. In Sharankhula, the
USAID/OFDA advisor reported that the number of beneficiaries present
at the distribution site exceeded the quantity of relief
commodities, leading to frantic crowds of people grabbing the
supplies. The Bangladesh army curbed these incidents of unrest and
commotion.

8. On November 21, USAID/OFDA's shelter and livelihoods advisor
departed Dhaka to travel to Barisal District in southern Bangladesh.
The advisor will meet with implementing partners, assess
humanitarian conditions on the ground, participate in distributions
of emergency relief commodities with implementing partners, and
identify key areas for USAID/OFDA support. The advisor also plans
to visit Patuakhali during the field assessment.

9. On November 22, USAID/OFDA's water, sanitation, and hygiene
advisor traveled with the Humanitarian Assistance Survey Team (HAST)
assessment mission to visit cyclone-affected areas of Barisal,
Galachipa, Kalapara, Barguna, and Patharghata. The advisor will
assess water, sanitation, and hygiene conditions, meet with
implementing partners, and identify gaps in relief activities where
USAID/OFDA could provide assistance.

10. On November 21, the USAID/DART military liaison officer (MLO)
coordinated with HAST staff and the U.S. Embassy Regional Security
Officer (RSO) to facilitate movement of joint USAID and HAST
assessment teams to southern Bangladesh. On November 22, the
USAID/Bangladesh Mission Director and USAID/DART MLO met with the
incoming U.S. military relief task force commander, Brigadier
General Bailey, and HAST team commander to discuss potential U.S.
military support for the relief operation and to establish
coordination mechanisms.

DHAKA 00001830 003 OF 003

------------------
GOB RELIEF EFFORTS
------------------

10. On November 21, the Bangladesh Air Force sent 18 missions
carrying 51 MT of relief items to cyclone affected areas. As of
November 22, the GOB had also provided 7,070 MT of rice, 27,000 bags
of emergency food aid, 18,000 blankets, 7,500 tents, 3,300 utensils,
and 13,000 bundles of corrugated iron sheets to assist affected
populations. The GOB also held a Disaster and Emergency Response
coordination meeting on November 22.

------------------------
INTERNATIONAL ASSISTANCE
------------------------

11. International donors, U.N. agencies, and financial institutions
continue to pledge relief for victims of Cyclone Sidr. On November
21, the World Bank announced $250 million for relief and
rehabilitation activities in affected areas.

12. According to local media sources, on November 21, two aircraft
carrying emergency relief commodities from Pakistan landed in Dhaka,
while two additional aircraft carrying facilities for a 30-bed field
hospital will arrive on November 22. An Indian aircraft carrying
more than 38 tons of relief supplies is also scheduled to arrive on
November 22.


PASI

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