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Cyclone Aila

© UNICEF/2010/Khaled Sattar
A woman carries a Family Kit received at a UNICEF relief distribution event for victims of Cyclone Aila at Gabura Union, Shyamnagar. The kit contains 13 essential items such as cooking utensils, toiletries and plastic sheets.

What happened?
Cyclone Aila hit 14 districts on the south-west coast of Bangladesh on the 25th May 2009. It was the second major blow for the region in less than two years: many of these areas were still recovering from the effects of 2007’s Cyclone Sidr when Aila struck. 

The cyclone caused :
  • 190 immediate deaths
  • injuries to 7,103 people
  • damage to 6,000 kilometres of roads
  • more than 1,700 kilometres of embankments to collapse
  • more than 500,000 people to become homeless
  • complete destruction of 275 primary schools and damage to 1,942 schools

While the cyclone was not as strong as Sidr, and the initial death toll was considerably lower, it is estimated that about 4 million people have been affected during and after Cyclone Aila. The cyclone has had a devastating long-term impact, particularly because embankments which were breached during the storm remain unrepaired. This means that some homes and schools still flood at high tide. People continue to live on embankments, the only place above water level, without sufficient food, water, shelter or protection. Livelihood options were also severely affected by the cyclone as livestock, shrimp ponds and cropland were washed away or destroyed. 

UNICEF’s response
The pre-positioning of emergency supplies meant that UNICEF could start work immediately after the cyclone. Within the first week UNICEF supported the DPHE on various water and sanitation initiatives: 11 mobile water treatment plants were deployed, 2,757 water points and 2,689 latrines were repaired and 6,999 drinking water bottles, 972,700 water purifying tablets, 8,747 jerry cans and 651 kilograms of bleaching powder were distributed.

As a result of UNICEF’s interventions and support :
  • 26,000 families (130,000 people) received family kits including essential items such as plastic sheets, cooking pots and clothes
  • 15,000 children and adolescents benefitted from psycho-social support and recreation activities at 180 Child Friendly Spaces
  • Approximately 500,000 primary school children received learning materials
  •  595 schools were repaired and 50 temporary learning spaces were established
  • 81,000 children aged 6 to 59 months and 11,000 pregnant women and lactating mothers received one-week’s emergency rations of high-energy biscuits
  • 10,500 children aged 9 to 11 months were immunised against measles
  • Over 500,000 people, including an estimated 233,347 children, gained access to water, sanitation and hygiene initiatives which helped contain any major outbreaks of waterborne diseases. 

UNICEF's Aila response was carried out in partnership with: several Government Departments such as the Department of Public Health Engineering (DPHE) and the Central Medicine Store; NGOs including Oxfam, NGO Forum, Concern Worldwide, Save the Children (UK, USA and Australia), Action Aid and Society Development Agency (SDA).



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