Tropical Cyclone Fani made landfall on May 3 in the Odisha region of India, sweeping through thousands of villages and across vast swaths of agricultural land, destroying homes, infrastructure and livelihoods. It is estimated that more than 15 million people from 16,000 villages were affected. The Humanitarian Coalition, working through member agency Islamic Relief and supported by the government of Canada, is in India providing urgent humanitarian assistance to survivors.
Although disaster preparedness measures saved lives, many of the approximately 1.5 million people who were evacuated from their homes before the cyclone hit have nothing to go back to. Houses and roads have been destroyed, schools and hospitals are out of commission and the damage to water systems raises serious concerns about the risk of disease. Limited access to water and lack of electricity for lighting also increase the risk of violence and abuse towards girls and women as they go farther from home for work and chores.
Islamic Relief Canada has been working in India for more than 10 years and, along with a local partner, was able to respond quickly to the most urgent needs of families affected by the cyclone, especially in the Puri district of Odisha. The agency plans to continue its work over the next three months, focusing on providing shelter, and ensuring access to clean water and hygiene products. They will also provide paid work opportunities so that residents can support themselves while participating in cleaning debris from their communities.
According to CEO Zaid Al-Rawni, Islamic Relief is paying special attention to the particular needs of vulnerable populations including scheduled castes and scheduled tribes, female-headed households, the elderly, and people with disabilities, as well as the farmers who have lost their livelihoods.
“We are all very happy that the loss of life was minimal in this situation,” says Al-Rawni, “but there are still millions of people who were impacted by Cyclone Fani and will be suffering the effects for a long time to come. Islamic Relief is working hard to maintain the health and dignity of survivors – many of whom were disadvantaged even before the disaster – and help restore their livelihoods.”
Global Affairs Canada and the Humanitarian Coalition are supporting this response in India through the Canadian Humanitarian Assistance Fund (CHAF). The total contribution for the project is $350,000.