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AID organisation Plan International has started relief work in India, after the strongest storm in 14 years, Cyclone Phailin, left a trail of destruction along India’s east coast on Sunday.
Following a mass evacuation of close to one million villagers, families are now beginning to rebuild their lives following the aftermath of this disaster. It is estimated that close to 12 million people have been affected in Odisha (formerly known as Orissa), while one million people have been displaced.
Bhagyashri Dengle, Executive Director of Plan India, says:
“Early evacuation has helped to save thousands of lives. However, devastation is widespread and cyclone-affected communities need dedicated and long-term support to get back on their feet.”
Plan International in India is working in coordination with the government and other humanitarian agencies to meet the immediate needs of the affected population and the child rights organisation is calling forsome US $3 million for the immediate relief and early recovery phases.
Along with its partner organisation, Plan India has commenced relief operations in the Ganjam district, the area most affected by the storm.
Plan will initially target 2,000 households with relief materials and children will remain a priority throughout.
Speaking from Odisha, India, Plan International's Head of Disaster Response and Preparedness, Dr Unni Krishnan, says:
“Following the early evacuation, most of the children, if not all, are with their families or will be united very quickly. However, in any post-disaster reconstruction effort, it is a necessity to put children at the centre of planning and implementation.”
But, while the early evacuation went well, the next stages will prove more difficult, says Dr Krishnan.
“Due to flooding, clean water and sanitation issues must remain a priority. Crop and agricultural land has been hugely affected, so this calls for attention to food nutrition security. Many fishermen on the coast have lost their fishing gear and their boats and they will need support to get back on their feet, too.”
As relief efforts get under way, Dr Krishnan has once again praised the work of government agencies for evacuating people ahead of the storm, drawing comparisons between Cyclone Phailin and the cyclone in 1999 that ripped India apart, killing 10,000 people.
“Since 1999, there has been a lot of investment made by the government, international donors and aid agencies such as Plan on disaster preparedness. This cyclone has clearly showed that this is an investment that is worth making.”