In the wake of Cyclone Amphan this May, Yorkshire-based International Humanitarian Charity, Penny Appeal, established themselves on the frontline of the emergency within days to provide urgent humanitarian aid to the survivors of the worst cyclone since 2007.
The deadly tropical cyclone claimed the lives of 128 people after causing a landfall near Jammu Island, West Bengal. An estimated £11 billion worth of damage is said to have been inflicted, making this the costliest cyclone on record in the North Indian Ocean. Millions of people were evacuated, but with COVID-19 and social distancing measures in place, a full-scale evacuation has been extremely challenging.
Penny Appeal responded immediately, focusing their support on the district of Satkhira, where the cyclone completely destroyed over 22,000 homes. It also destroyed livestock, crops, shrimp farms, roads, and embankments. This has caused long-term damage to hundreds of thousands of livelihoods, compounding the suffering of communities who were also navigating the global pandemic and the financial and social impact of a lockdown. The immediate, urgent humanitarian needs in the area included access to food and safe drinking water, both critical to survival.
Penny Appeal distributed 400 food parcels and 400 hygiene kits in the area. The food parcels included rice, lentils, potatoes, salt, oil, sugar, and oral saline, creating a balance between non-perishable food that can be provided immediately, and items that are wholesome and nutrient-dense to support the health of the whole family. With the deadly virus already in circulation and the added challenge of floodwaters posing the threat of waterborne disease and infection, the hygiene kits provided will be crucial in the protection of cyclone victims. They included items such as soap, detergent, sanitary items, and face masks. The charity also distributed safe drinking water. This response provided lifesaving support to 2,000 cyclone survivors.
One of the survivors is a mother named Rabeya, who was swept up in the floods. Separated from her husband and children, she suffered extensive wounds before finding safety in a shelter, where she was reunited with her husband. Suffering from exhaustion, thirst, and extreme hunger they began a very difficult journey back to their home to look for their children. Tragically, their two sons had drowned, and their house had been completely destroyed. Penny Appeal supported the couple, bringing them a food parcel, plenty of fresh drinking water, and hygiene items to ensure that they were able to protect themselves. These items ensured their survival while they grieved and enabled them to focus on piecing their lives back together.
A crucial part of the disaster recovery process is ensuring families have safe shelter. Moving into the next phase of their response, Penny Appeal will be providing sustainable interventions, repairing 80 homes in the district. The charity is also planning to implement a community rainwater harvesting system, which will allow families in the district to collect, filter, and store rainwater, to ensure they have an adequate, reliable supply of clean drinking water. In addition to these sustainable projects, distributions of clothes, baby food, and powdered milk are also being arranged.