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Saturday, November 14, 2009


People still struggle for living
Mustafizur Rahman and Tapos Kanti Das

Many of the people in the south affected by cyclone Sidr are still struggling to get back to their livelihood and homesteads even two years after the incident as the government and donors are far from keeping their words on survivors' rehabilitation.
   The homeless victims are also worried with the winter closing in as many of them are still living in makeshift houses on roads and embankments, mostly along the coasts in Khulna and Barisal, also battered later by another cyclone.
   Cyclone Sidr pounded the country's south, especially the regions of Khulna and Barisal, on November 15, 2007. Water surges whipped up by cyclone Aila, which crossed the coastline into India on May 25, 2009, also battered the region for the second time.
   'We have completed the rehabilitation of Sidr victims with the funds we have so far received. Sidr has become an old issue for us. We are now working on the rehabilitation of Aila victims,' the food secretary, Md Mokhlesur Rahman, told New Age on Saturday.
   He, however, expressed his ignorance about how much of the assistance pledged by international donor agencies and foreign countries for the rehabilitation of Sidr victims had reached the government.
   Prospects are still bleak for landless farmers, fishermen and day-labourers, who lost their family, homesteads and livelihood to the cyclone, to get back to work for lack of income generating initiatives in the worst-affected areas as many of them had quit their earlier occupation and some had left the areas for other places, including Dhaka, looking for work.
   More than 4,000 people were killed in cyclone Sidr, which affected 30 out of the 64 districts.
   Another 90 lakh people were severely affected in southern districts, including Chittagong, Cox's Bazar, Noakhali, Chandpur, Feni, Barisal, Pirojpur, Lakshmipur, Jhalakati, Bhola, Barguna, Patuakhali, Bagerhat, Satkhira and Khulna, according to official records.
   A large number of Sidr survivors in the worst-affected Sarankhola in Bagerhat still continue to suffer as they are yet to rebuild their homesteads. They are now passing their days in utter hardship.
   People of some areas in the upazila are also suffering from shortage of drinking water. They are now drinking water from the River Baleshwar.
   'I am yet to rebuild my house. A large number of people like me are yet to rebuild their houses or get help from any organisations,' said Md Alam at Rayenda in Sarankhola.
   Thirty-year-old Alam told New Age he had lost nine of his family, including his mother, uncle, aunt and cousins, to the cyclone.
   'The shelters provided by relief agencies not like the ones we owned. They are too small [15 feet long and 10 feet wide] to live for more than five people,' said Abdur Rashid of the village who is one of a few lucky men who received a place for housing in which he lives with six of the family.

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