[Dhaka Correspondent] The interim government plans three-phase post-cyclone relief and rehabilitation programmes so that the affected people in the Sidr-hit southern districts may return to normal life. Acting food and disaster management secretary, Mohammad Ayub Miah, informed the meeting of secretaries of the ministry’s relief and rehabilitation programmes at the cabinet division Thursday. Cabinet secretary, Ali Imam Majumder, presided over the meeting on the coordination of relief and rehabilitation activities in affected areas where people are left with nothing but devastation after cyclone Sidr struck on November 15.
Some secretaries stressed the need for the participation of socio-cultural and other non-governmental organizations in relief and rehabilitation activities to make government efforts successful, meeting sources said. The meeting also noted with deep concern that immediate measures should be taken to supply the affected areas with baby food.
“Food and disaster management secretary has presented an overview of the effects of the cyclone along with a plan for relief and rehabilitation,” cabinet secretary told newsmen after the meeting. He admitted to some “lapses and limitations” in relief operations in the affected areas.
Additional chief engineers of the Department of Public Health Engineering and the Roads and Highways Department and the director general of the Directorate General of Health Services have primarily been instructed to stay in Barisal to coordinate the rehabilitation activities.
The meeting has decided to make an appeal to government officials and employees to donate their one day’s salary to the chief adviser’s relief fund. It has also decided to send 300 physicians to the cyclone-hit districts.
The secretary to the chief adviser’s office, Kazi Aminul Islam, said cash was being distributed among the worst-affected people to buy food and rebuild houses. “It is the child’s parents who know better of the baby food. We are providing them with money so that they can buy food for the babies.” He said the government’s main task at the moment was to help the affected to return to their normal life.
It has been reported that people in the worst-affected areas were not getting any food or drinking water.
The one-month, short-term plan includes rescue, burial services, disposal of corpses, emergency service restoration, emergency relief, repairing drinking water sources and damage assessment.
The four-month, medium-term rehabilitation programme, between December and March, focuses on house building, continuation of food support, reopening of educational institutions, preventing outbreak of epidemics and repair of roads, culverts and bridges.
The long-term plan for the duration of four more months incorporates rehabilitation of Sundarban, construction of cyclone centers and expansion of disaster management information network.
The Planning Division has asked the ministries concerned to submit damage assessments in their respective sectors for immediate repair and reconstruction.
Around 55 lakh people in 30 districts have been affected by the cyclone; 2,928 were killed mostly in Barguna, Bagerhat, Patuakhali, Pirojpur and Barisal till Thursday morning, according to the official figure, furnished by the food and disaster management secretary at the meeting.