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Cablegate: Director of Foreign Assistance Visits Bangladesh

VZCZCXRO3796
PP RUEHCI
DE RUEHKA #1832/01 3271117
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
P 231117Z NOV 07
FM AMEMBASSY DHAKA
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 5621
INFO RUEHKT/AMEMBASSY KATHMANDU 9365
RUEHCI/AMCONSUL KOLKATA 1006
RUEHNE/AMEMBASSY NEW DELHI 0298
RUEHGO/AMEMBASSY RANGOON 2601
RUEHLM/AMEMBASSY COLOMBO 8171
RUEHBK/AMEMBASSY BANGKOK 8255
RUEHIL/AMEMBASSY ISLAMABAD 1897
RUEHRO/AMEMBASSY ROME 0393
RUCNDT/USMISSION USUN NEW YORK 0024
RHEHNSC/NSC WASHDC
RUEATRS/DEPT OF TREASURY WASHINGTON DC

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 02 DHAKA 001832

SIPDIS

SENSITIVE
SIPDIS

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
BANGKOK FOR RDM/A TOM DOLAN, ROB BARTON
KATHMANDU FOR USAID OFDA BILL BERGER
TREASURY FOR ELIZABETH WEISS AND SUSAN CHUN

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: EAID PREL OVIP ECON PINR EAGR SENV BG
SUBJECT: DIRECTOR OF FOREIGN ASSISTANCE VISITS BANGLADESH

REF: A) DHAKA 1808

1. (SBU) Summary: Director of U.S. Foreign Assistance and USAID
Administrator Henrietta Fore November 20 visited Bangladesh to
assess damage from Cyclone Sidr and offer USG support for relief
efforts. During her visit she conducted an aerial survey of
cyclone-hit regions, met with the Bangladesh Chief Adviser, handed
over 35 tons in relief supplies, met international donors and relief
organizations, and was briefed by the U.S. military's humanitarian
assistance survey team. Administrator Fore's visit received wide
and favorable media coverage. Bangladeshi interlocutors welcomed
both Administrator Fore's visit and USG humanitarian assistance,
noting a need for immediate aid as well as long-term support as
Bangladesh slowly recovers from the devastating effects of the
cyclone. End Summary.

2. (U) Director of U.S. Foreign Assistance and USAID Administrator
Henrietta Fore November 20 visited Bangladesh, which is still
reeling from the destruction caused by Cyclone Sidr. (reftel and
septels) Administrator Fore, joined by Charg d'Affaires a.i. Pasi,
USAID Mission Director Rollins, and Bangladesh Secretary for Food
and Disaster Management Dr. Ayub Miah, surveyed by air a portion of
the region hit hardest by the cyclone. As the delegation flew over
the southwest coastal district of Barguna, it noted widespread
damage caused to homes, crops and business enterprises. Banana
trees were snapped, rice paddies were awash in seawater, and even
large ferries were tossed aground by the powerful cyclone.

BANGLADESH'S CHIEF ADVISER IDENTIFIES NEEDS

3. (SBU) In a meeting with Administrator Fore, Bangladesh Chief
Adviser Fakhruddin Ahmed thanked her for the condolences and support
pouring in from the United States, and noted President Bush's and
Secretary Rice's messages. He welcomed continued USG humanitarian

SIPDIS
assistance, though he noted that all relief efforts need to be
coordinated under "the umbrella" of the Government of Bangladesh
(GOB). The Chief Adviser said Bangladesh had immediate and long
term needs in the wake of the cyclone. He identified an immediate
need for food, including rice, wheat, lentils and edible oil; cash
to rebuild homes and restore farms; and drinking water. The Chief
Adviser noted that many roads and road embankments had been washed
away by the cyclone; these networks are important to Bangladesh's
economic growth.

4. (SBU) The Chief Adviser also focused on the country's medium-
and long-term requirements following the cyclone, in particular the
need to restore livelihoods and infrastructure. The Chief Adviser
said he is pushing the GOB to distribute cash, in addition to
supplies, as part of its relief efforts. By giving cash, cyclone
victims have the power to manage their response to the tragedy; they
can use the cash to help repair their homes or their livelihoods,
whichever is needed most. Cash disbursement also bolsters the local
economy more broadly, he observed. The Chief Adviser also noted the
need for Bangladeshis to rebuild in new ways.

5. (SBU) The Chief Adviser told Administrator Fore that over the
long term Bangladesh's infrastructure, which already faces
constraints, will need major repairs, including roads, road and
river embankments, and rural electrification networks. The Chief
Adviser said the GOB particularly desires USG assistance in this
area. He observed that it was too soon to tell how the cyclone
would affect economic growth in Bangladesh this year, but there
would certainly be a dip in agricultural production, which has
already been affected by heavy monsoonal flooding earlier in the
year. He noted the need for new roads to bring economic growth to a
greater number of people.

RELIEF SUPPLIES FOR 12,000 ARRIVE

6. (U) At Zia International Airport, Administrator Fore presented
35 tons of recently-arrived relief supplies to Dr. Ayub Miah, the
senior GOB representative coordinating disaster relief. The
supplies, which include temporary shelter materials, jerricans and

DHAKA 00001832 002 OF 002


hygiene kits for 12,000 families, will be distributed by USAID donor
partners CARE and Save the Children.

ADMINISTRATOR FORE MEETS WITH DONORS

7. (U) Administrator Fore met with chiefs of mission from the UK,
Canadian and Australian High Commissions; chiefs of party from DFID,
UNDP, Save the Children (US), CARE, and Wolrd Vision; and a
representative from the International Federation of the Red
Cross/Red Crescent. Discussions focused on distinguishing short-term
relief needs from medium to long term reconstruction efforts. The
group identified immediate needs as potable water, food, temporary
shelter, and logistical support to move donations and other
domestically available supplies such as medicine. From initial
surveys it is also evident that varying needs exist across the
affected areas.

8. (U) The group's consensus was that the long term disaster
recovery effort presents broad challenges associated with the
subsistence-level conditions of economic development for the
impacted communities. Given the predisposition of much of
Bangladesh to this sort of catastrophe, changes are needed in
dwelling patterns and community design. For landless people without
fixed assets, sustained economic opportunity is the only solution to
the status-quo conditions of poverty, which are only exacerbated by
the economic shocks caused by natural disasters.

VISIT RECEIVES BROAD PRESS COVERAGE

9. (U) Administrator Fore's visit received wide media coverage from
both domestic and foreign press. All major Bangla and English
language daily newspapers carried stories on her trip. She was
interviewed by ABC and CNN. Her CNN interview was broadcast live at
7 p.m. local time November 20 during CNN International's World News
Asia newscast and was carried by CNN US and CNN Radio.

COMMENT

10. (SBU) Administrator Fore's visit, as well as the USG assistance
being mobilized, has been welcomed in Bangladesh. Bangladeshis are
aware of USG support received during the nation's 36-year history,
including during national calamities. This message resonated during
Administrator Fore's visit, as she referred to her 1991 visit
following another devastating cyclone, when she was an Assistant
USAID Administrator.

10. (U) Administrator Fore cleared this message.

PASI

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