Photo credit: Kiron/Focus Bangla News
On May 21, 2016, a cyclone devastated the low-lying coastal regions of Bangladesh. BRAC is playing a leading role in providing relief, particularly in hard to reach areas, through its extensive reach in the south.
Cyclone Roanu hit the coast of Bangladesh at 11:00am on 21 May 2016. Winds reached speeds of 102 kilometres per hour and caused massive damage to houses, businesses and agricultural lands. Heavy rainfall inundated the southern coastal regions of the country and caused severe landslides. An estimated 50,000 houses were partially damaged and more than 24,000 properties were destroyed.
Roanu was half the strength of 2007’s Cyclone Sidr, which killed 3,447 people and caused millions of dollars in damage. A coordinated community response led by authorities and supported by BRAC and other agencies helped 500,000 people relocate to cyclone shelters the day before the cyclone hit. To date, 24 deaths have been recorded.
The cyclone forced the cancellation of the national Higher Secondary Certificate examinations. BRAC is providing water, food supplies and cash transfers to families who have been affected by the cyclone, as well as distributing special cash grants to exam candidates. A total of BDT 2 million has been allocated for relief efforts, focusing on specific areas that have not received immediate supplies.
The organisation’s priorities are to support the continuation of education and establish child-friendly spaces to ensure that children are busy with activities while out of school.
“Disaster responses traditionally focus on the immediate needs of survivors,” said Dr Muhammad Musa, executive director of BRAC. “Children and young people are often forgotten and become the most vulnerable group. We are focusing on meeting basic needs, while also ensuring that children are kept safe and can continue learning.”
In addition to providing relief, BRAC is participating in the government-initiated joint needs assessment for loss and damage. This is the first time that a Bangladesh-based non-governmental organisation has participated in this assessment.
BRAC is leading the first phase of the assessment in Patuakhali and co-leading the assessment in Cox’s Bazar, which were two of the most affected districts. Cyclone Roanu affected multiple districts including Chittagong, Cox’s Bazar, Chandpur, Naokhali, Feni, Laxmipur, Bagerhaat, Khulna, Barisal, Potuakhali, Pirojpur, Bhola, Borguna and Jalokathi – all areas where BRAC has programmes.