Bhubaneswar: ‘Cyclone Fani’, one of the strongest storms to batter the Indian subcontinent in decades, made landfall near Puri, India, 10 days ago. The million plus families who were safely evacuated during the disaster are now back to see their homes destroyed. Over 5 lakh houses have been damaged and 1.5 crore people affected across Odisha; and over 33,000 houses damaged and 6.3 lakh people affected in West Bengal.
Taking this into consideration, SEEDS (Sustainable Environment and Ecological Development Society) is looking at setting up safe and sustainable transitional homes for people who have lost their homes. At the backend, a team of architects, engineers and social workers have been busy developing a design for the transitional shelter. This keeps the consciousness of the local soil conditions, materials, skills, environment, and culture in mind; and reduces risk in future disasters! The first demonstration house will begin within a week in Puri.
Additionally, a large number of trees have fallen across the affected areas. Timber from fallen trees and rubble from damaged houses can be creatively used for reconstruction. This is a unique approach SEEDS is taking to ensure speedy reconstruction with minimum environmental impact. In the medium term, SEEDS is also looking at plantation drives of local species to restore the green cover.
SEEDS aims to reach out to 20,000 affected families in the affected areas with immediate response operations already underway. Beyond planning for transitional homes in the two states, SEEDS has also been:• Setting up and operating Community Kitchens – As part of immediate needs, SEEDS and local partner SPANDAN supported a community kitchen that was managed by cyclone survivors in the Baliapanda slum of Puri to address immediate needs. 500 people from 123 families were able to have access to a good meal when most needed.• Improving access to safe water and hygiene awareness – In Biramput and Raghusardarbar Jalpai villages of East Medinipur, West Bengal training on hygiene, water chlorination and sanitation; and distribution of key materials to ensure safe drinking water at a family level is underway. Along with local partner KJKS, common drinking water sources and areas at risk of spreading disease have also been identified and are undergoing the chlorination process. 190 families (910 people) have already been reached.