Inclusive Rapid Emergency Humanitarian Assistance to Communities in West Bengal affected by Cyclone Amphan.
The Inclusive Rapid Emergency Humanitarian Assistance to Communities (IREACH) programme, funded by ECHO, is providing immediate and inclusive multi-purpose assistance to the socially excluded and most vulnerable communities in the districts of West Bengal worst affected by Cyclone Amphan.
We are providing water sanitation and hygiene support, multipurpose cash and shelter repair in District North 24 Pargana and South 24 Pargana.
District North 24 Pargana and South 24 Pargana, West Bengal
May 2020 - November 2020
Socially excluded and most vulnerable communities in the worst affected districts of West Bengal
CASA (Church’s Auxiliary for Social Action)
Through this project we are reaching 24,295 vulnerable people with:
- cash support,
- water sanitation and hygiene (WASH) activities such as repairing, cleaning and disinfecting deep tube wells, water ponds and repair of toilets,
- repair of shelters,
- public health promotion activities.
By the end of project we will have reached
- 811 families with cash support,
- 500 extremely vulnerable individuals with support for repair of shelters,
- 1,676 families with hygiene kits containing jerry can for collecting water, sanitary cloths for women and adolescent girls, soaps and detergent and masks to prevent the spread of COVID-19.
We will have
- repaired 30 community water wells and 7 community and evacuation centre tube wells to ensure safe drinking water.
- cleaned and disinfected 15 water ponds
- repaired 100 families toilets.
Communities affected by Cyclone Amphan were given hygiene kits to support them in maintaining good personal hygiene. The kits also included COVID-19 safety equipment such as masks and extra soap. People were also given training on use of all of the items in the kit.
Banners were set up in all villages for communities to receive information about how to provide complaints and suggestions about the support they have received in the project.
Case Study - Dipankar's struggle home to support his family
Following cyclone Amphan in May, Dipankar Mridha knew life back home would not be the same for his family. After several failed attempts to phone home, Dipankar, 22, got through to his mother in Jogesganj, Madabkati village, West Bengal.
“Shob shesh hoye gyalo (Everything is over),” she said.
The only property his family owned had been flattened by the cyclonic storm. Over 300 houses in his village had been destroyed in the space of an hour.
Dipankar had been working as a labourer in Port Blair in Andaman, 850 miles away from his home, where a total lockdown was imposed on 20th May. This meant he could not find a way to get back to his family who had lost everything and needed him more than ever.
After nearly two months struggling to get back to his village, eventually he managed to get a flight home.
When he arrived in (where), Dipankar and three other returning migrants had to quarantine in a cyclone/evacuation shelter. They had to undergo medical test for seven days, leaving them feeling traumatised.
“For a couple of days, I became very depressed and felt very lonely, like an outsider coming back to my own village. The villagers were not coming close or talking to me.”
There was no work that Dipankar could do in the area and fishing in the local river was never enough to generate an income for the struggling family.
Initially, the family received 10 KG of rice, 1 tarpaulin and cooked meals for 3 days from the local government.
They were later given Rs.10,000 (approx. £100) by Christian Aid partner Church’s Auxiliary for Social Action (CASA).
Dipankar said, “We are thankful to CASA and CAID. The support came as a Blessing at the time of this crises period. We spent this money on my father’s medicine, also for my mother as she is a heart patient and requires regular medicines.”
As well as medical supplies Dipankar’s family have been able to buy food and bamboo to repair their house.
Dipankar continues to care for his sick parents while finding the little work that he can in the local area.
Case study - Santosh regains his independence due to disability inclusion approach of IREACH
Santosh, 45, his wife Brinde and son Sujit live in a swampy island in the Indian Sundarbans, a vast low-lying area across India and Bangladesh. Santosh had polio at the age of 7 and has been unable to walk since then. He uses a tricycle to move around and go to work.
In the middle of the coronavirus pandemic, on 20th May 2020 a severe Cyclone “Amphan” hit their island causing extensive damage to houses, trees and physical infrastructure. Santosh was among those severally affected by this cyclone. The roof of his house was blown away; the food his family had stored was lost; his tricycle was damaged by the falling roof. Santosh and his family stayed in their damaged house, with no roof, with crumbling walls as COVID-19 restrictions and fears were at large and designated safe shelters were not accessible. Routes to these shelters were also damaged with the rain that followed the cyclone.
Santosh and his family received immediate support from local volunteers who gave emergency food packages and a tarpaulin for his damaged house.
Christian Aid’s Inclusive Rapid Emergency Humanitarian Assistance to Communities (IREACH) project team identified Santosh and his family to be recipients of the project response. The team used information and simple tools provided through online sessions conducted by Handicap International (HI) a technical partner on disability inclusion for the IREACH project. Santosh was selected to receive Unconditional Cash Transfer (UCT) and water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) support.
Santosh used the cash grant to replenish the food supply for his family and to repair his tricycle. The flexibility of the cash provided, allowed him to repair his mobility device and ensured that he continued to be independent in his movement.
Due to COVID-19 restrictions on travel, partner HI had to be trained and supported remotely using a video conferencing and phone to put in modifications to make the WAS structures accessible. Now Santosh can use the facilities properly as a hand pump and a ramp were put in place.
Santosh is happy that he was able to get food for his family on time, his house was repaired, he can go to the water pump and bathe himself rather than depend on someone else and most importantly, his tricycle is repaired giving him independence.
There are many people with disabilities like Santosh, capable of managing themselves and their families in the face of disasters. Small changes can remove barriers for people with disabilities, improve their independence and contribute towards building resilient communities.