Cyclone Phailin: HelpAge India responding to older people's needs
By Sarah Marzouk
Ten days ago, cyclone Phailin crashed into the eastern coast of India and Odisha state. Since, it has moved inland, bringing with it more heavy rains to Bihar state. Our sister organisation, HelpAge India is now responding to those affected in Odisha and Bihar.
(c) HelpAge India
In Odisha, over 12.1 million people have been affected so far and 375,000 houses destroyed. 2013 UN population data estimates that 16.7% of India's population are aged 50 or over. Based on these figures therefore, two million of those affected could be older men and women.
Huge damage to homes, crops and livestock
6,500 kilometres of roads have been destroyed and there has been huge damage to crops, livestock, forests and plantations. There is also little clean drinking water for those who have been affected in villages and temporary shelters.
Homes are filled with debris and stagnant water and water borne diseases have already started to spread. People are increasingly concerned about epidemics breaking out. In some of the affected areas, the Government expects a delay of six months before electricity is restored.
From the needs assessments that HelpAge India have conducted, people's most immediate needs are:
- temporary shelter,
- clothes and blankets,
- mosquito nets.
Farmers who have lost their crops and have not been able to pay back loans or support themselves also need help to sow next season's crop. Families are struggling to feed themselves, as it is difficult to find work since the cyclone struck. Communities who rely on fishing have been affected as their boats and nets have been badly damaged.
Providing medical help to older people
Fortunately, in the areas of Bihar state in which HelpAge India works, the weather is now clear. However, 150 houses have been destroyed and 500 damaged and rice crops have been affected badly. HelpAge India has been able to put in place disaster risk reduction measures to ensure the impact of the disaster is contained.
They are now also responding to the disaster by deploying mobile medical units to older people affected and, with Elder Self Help Group (ESHG) Federations, have taken disaster management measures, including:
- setting up fodder banks to manage the scarcity of fodder,
- providing grain and rice to those affected,
- arranging temporary accommodation at higher altitude for vulnerable older people.
In the UK
Our UK sister organisation, Age International, has launched an emergency appeal.
Outside of the UK
Our sister organisation in India, HelpAge India, is responding to the cyclone.