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Cablegate: Usaid/Ofda Cyclone Sidr Situation Report #9: Shelter And

VZCZCXRO2062
OO RUEHCI
DE RUEHKA #1885/01 3371254
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
O 031254Z DEC 07
FM AMEMBASSY DHAKA
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 5710
INFO RUEHKT/AMEMBASSY KATHMANDU 9405
RUEHCI/AMCONSUL KOLKATA 1043
RUEHNE/AMEMBASSY NEW DELHI 0334
RUEHGO/AMEMBASSY RANGOON 2619
RUEHLM/AMEMBASSY COLOMBO 8199
RUEHBK/AMEMBASSY BANGKOK 8294
RUEHIL/AMEMBASSY ISLAMABAD 1928
RUEHRO/AMEMBASSY ROME 0420
RUEHGV/USMISSION GENEVA 0601
RUCNDT/USMISSION USUN NEW YORK 0051
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 04 DHAKA 001885

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 #9: Shelter and
Livelihoods: Thoughts from the Field


1. The USAID'S Disaster Assistance Response Team's (USAID/DART)
shelter and livelihoods advisor recently completed a three-day
assessment in the cyclone-affected districts of Bagerhat and
Pirojpur. These two districts, along with Borguna and Paktuakhali,
are among the districts hardest hit by Cyclone Sidr. The assessment
focused on the status of current relief activities, the evolving
shelter and livelihoods needs of cyclone-affected populations, the
coordination of relief actors on the ground, and the ground-truthing
of reports that there are still large areas yet to receive relief
assistance.

2. Nearly three weeks following the landfall of Sidr, interviewed
families still identify shelter, cash, livelihoods support and food
as their most urgent needs. These identified needs are consistent
with findings from previous DART assessments.

3. The USAID/DART's shelter and livelihoods advisor found that,
within the assessed areas, there were pockets of severe damage
caused by high winds and falling trees. The tidal surge that
affected the southern parts of Barguna and Paktuakhali districts did
not significantly affect Bagerhat and Pirojpur. The geographic
location of these districts allowed the Sundarbans, a massive
mangrove swamp, to absorb the brunt of Sidr's strength. Damage to
these areas, while significant, would have been much greater had not
the Sundarbans effectively buffeted Sidr's high winds and tidal
surge.

4. Current relief interventions are undertaken by a variety of
actors. There are significant numbers of grassroots organizations
and local non-governmental organizations (NGOs) in Bangladesh that
are integrally involved in the delivery of relief commodities.
These commodities include household items, clothes, and food. These
ad-hoc activities often go unnoticed as they take place informally
and oftentimes outside the reach of national level coordination
efforts. These activities are small when considered in isolation.
However, when they are viewed in aggregate, they provide extensive
coverage of the cyclone-affected area.

5. While the U.N. cluster system is attempting to coordinate relief
activities at the national level, the Government of Bangladesh (GOB)
military is coordinating relief activities at the local upazilla
level. Local government officials report that this coordination is
proving effective. The coordination of these informal, ad-hoc
relief activities significantly reduces the potential for un-served
areas existing within the cyclone-affected area. Some NGOs reported
that there are still large geographic areas yet to receive relief
assistance. The USAID/DART Livelihoods and Water, Sanitation, and
Hygiene Advisors visited all of these reportedly un-served areas.
In all cases, relief assistance was being provided. Effective
coordination at the local level is one of the primary reasons why.


-----------------------
PRIORITY NEEDS: SHELTER
-----------------------

6. Cyclone-affected families overwhelmingly identify shelter as one
of their most urgent needs. World Vision estimates that more than
200,000 shelters have been damaged or destroyed within Bagerhat and
Pirojpur districts. Emergency shelter interventions by World Vision
and other organizations are focused on the distribution of timbers,

DHAKA 00001885 002 OF 004


CI sheeting, and tools. This shelter kit is thought to provide the
basic inputs a family needs in order to meet their acute emergency
shelter need.

7. Field assessments indicate that, in many places, families have
salvaged materials from their previous houses and are preparing for
rebuilding. Families have constructed makeshift shelters from
salvaged materials and are residing on their plots of land in these
temporary structures until their houses are rebuilt.

8. In interviews with affected populations, many respondents have
stated that they cannot rebuild their houses because they do not
possess the technical know-how. Housing construction throughout the
cyclone-affected area is widely undertaken by skilled laborers that
are hired by the home owners. The hiring of skilled labor for the
construction of a modest house is estimated to be 14,000 taka
($200). Many cyclone-affected families do not have the necessary
cash to pay the skilled labor to build their houses. Without access
to additional income, shelter reconstruction activities could stymie
thereby prolonging the recovery period.

-------------------
PRIORITY NEEDS: CASH
--------------------

9. Livelihoods throughout the cyclone-affected area have been
interrupted. Farmers, fishermen, and small traders have been hit
especially hard. This interruption to livelihoods has severely
reduced people's access to cash. Cash is incredibly important to
people's overall recovery efforts. Without it, shelter
reconstruction efforts are limited (see above note), access to food
is curtailed thereby increasing food insecurity, needed drugs and
medicines cannot be procured, and livelihoods assets (boats, nets,
fisheries, seeds, tools) cannot be repaired or restored.

10. The GOB estimates that nearly 382,000 livestock animals were
lost. For many people in the affected region, livestock serves as
the place where wealth is stored. The loss of livestock is
particularly devastating for poor families. Cows not only serve as
wealth storage but also contribute to income generation through the
selling of milk. The USAID/OFDA Shelter and Livelihoods Advisor
spent time in cattle bazaars in the affected region. Prior to the
Cyclone Sidr, the average price for a cow was an estimated 10,000
taka. Following the cyclone, the price has fallen to 6,000 taka.
The reduction in price is due primarily to families liquidating
household assets in effort to obtain cash to rebuild their houses.


11. The GOB has developed a compensation plan whereby a family with
a damaged house is to receive 3000 taka, a family with a destroyed
house is to receive 5000 taka, and a family who had a member die is
to receive 10,000 taka. This approach was thought to provide a much
needed cash-infusion into the affected areas. Pirojpur District has
already distributed 64.5 million taka ($950,000) as part of this
compensation plan. However, interviews with particularly vulnerable
families in the affected region reveal that they have yet to receive
any compensation from the GOB. It is unclear whether the GOB
compensation plan will target the most needy families or will be
used as a political tool by local politicians to support their
political parties. More time is needed to gauge the effectiveness
of this program.

DHAKA 00001885 003 OF 004

12. The need for cash throughout the affected region is pronounced.
Given that markets in the area are still functioning and
well-integrated with the rest of the country signifies that a
large-scale cash infusion is viable. The World Bank is planning an
assessment of the affected region in the coming weeks which will
inform the design of its longer-term recovery program. The Bank is
considering implementing a large-scale cash distribution to the most
needy families. This program will provide a much needed cash
complement to the relief assistance package that has been given to
date.

------------------------------------------
PRIORITY NEED: LIVELIHOODS, INCLUDING FOOD
------------------------------------------

13. Interviews with affected populations reveal that farming,
fishing, and small trading were livelihoods that have been severely
disrupted by the cyclone. The loss of productive assets (boats,
nets, seed inputs, related equipment) prevents livelihoods from
resuming in the near future without external assistance. Immediate
assistance should focus on the restoration of these productive
assets either through direct distribution (of seeds and tools) or
through programs aimed to increase purchasing power thereby enabling
people to procure or repair assets (such as boats and nets)
themselves.

14. The extent of crop damage throughout the affected region is yet
to be determined. The U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO)
is planning a crop assessment in the coming days that will determine
the amount of crop loss and provide a clearer picture of overall
crop loss. Currently, crop loss estimates range from 30 to 85
percent.

15. In order to support farmers, the very timely distribution of
agricultural inputs (seeds, tools, and fertilizer) may be needed.
The need for this intervention will be determined by actual crop
loss. If crop losses are low, interruption to farming livelihoods
may not be severe and the need for the distribution of agricultural
inputs may be eliminated.

---------------
RECOMMENDATIONS
---------------

16. While emergency shelter assistance is needed throughout the
cyclone-affected region, the USAID/DART Shelter and Livelihoods
Advisor recommends that the bulk of USAID's Office of U.S. Foreign
Disaster Assistance (USAID/OFDA) shelter assistance should focus on
supporting early recovery transitional shelter activities. The
U.N.-sponsored shelter cluster is currently working on a design for
a transitional shelter which can help standardize shelter assistance
across the affected region. The USAID/DART shelter and livelihoods
advisor is integrally involved in supporting the development and
timely distribution of this shelter design. It is expected to be
distributed within the next six days.

17. The USAID/DART shelter and livelihoods advisor recommends that
USAID/OFDA-funded shelter programs focus on meeting both the
emergency need for shelter and the early recovery need for
transitional housing. Emergency shelter activities should include

DHAKA 00001885 004 OF 004


the distribution of shelter kits (CI sheeting, timber, tools) and
focus on providing shelter prior to the onset of the Bangladesh
winter (late December). Transitional shelter activities (training,
public outreach in build back better messages, and distribution of
more robust housing inputs) should focus on providing early recovery
assistance prior to the onset of the rainy season (June).

18. With regard to cash, the USAID/DART shelter and livelihoods
advisor recommends that early recovery activities focus on creating
income generating opportunities. Cash-for-work (CFW) activities
targeting road rehabilitation, removal of debris from public places,
pond clearing, and the rehabilitation of flood protection walls are
all viable activities. In general CFW activities should focus on
the rehabilitation of public property goods and not on private
property items such as paying people to plant crops or to build
their homes. A second recommendation is to work in close
coordination with the World Bank to determine the type of long-term
assistance program it is planning. If the Bank plans large-scale
cash distributions, USAID/OFDA may need to rethink CFW activities as
cash distribution tends to undermine CFW if carried out within the
same geographic area.

19. Where cyclone-affected livelihoods have been interrupted,
USAID/OFDA recommends focusing early recovery assistance on the
restoration of productive assets. This will include seeds and tools
distribution (or seed fairs) for farmers. Livelihoods support
should also include activities aimed to increase purchasing power.
Through creating income generating activities, people will be able
to replace or repair damaged livelihoods assets (such as boats,
nets, tools, and rickshaws) themselves.


PASI

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