The severe cyclonic storm “YAAS” made landfall in West Bengal and Odisha coast in India on 26 May 2021 at a wind speed of 150 KMPH. On the same day, late evening, it crossed the west coast of Bangladesh affecting 16 districts, of which Patuakhali, Satkhira, Pirozpur, Bhola, Borguna were most affected.
The cyclonic event has affected approx 1.3 million people and nine (9) deaths were registered as per compiled information from SoS/D-Form collected through government sources, however as per control room of DGHS and health EoC no. of death has been three (03).
Coinciding with the full moon, causing a 6-8 feet tidal wave across the coastal districts resulted broken embankments in many places, resulted in inundation and forced people into temporary displacement or living in marooned situation. Data indicates that Satkhira District faced the highest levels of displacement, with Shyamnagar Upazila and Assasuni Upazila worst affected. Assessments conducted in February 2021 by Displacement Management Cluster (DMC) identified approximately 11,000 IDPs at the time who were still displaced following the impact of cyclone Amphan, with the majority residing in temporary shelters on embankments in hazard-prone areas. Following Satkhira, the worst affected districts are reported to be Patuakhali, Bhola and Bagerhat.
The Government of Bangladesh (GoB) prepared for the cyclone through the leadership of Ministry of Disaster Management and Relief (MoDMR), which started with coordination meetings with all relevant government and non-government stakeholders. Evacuations were facilitated with the help of CPP, BDRCS, Fire Service and Civil Defense (FSCD), Police, Armed Forces, and other organizations, permanent and temporary shelters. Information from GoB source indicates that 6,816 cyclone shelters were prepared for evacuation and 1,343 emergency medical teams were kept on standby in the 14 coastal districts in preparation for the landfall. Apart from the GoB initiatives, I/NGOs have responded as part of preparedness and early action. Save the Children distributed Cash Grants and Hygiene NFIs to 700 families and shelter kits to 300 families under Early Action Protocol in Patuakhali and Bagerhat districts on 25th May 2021. IFRC triggered their DERF fund and allocated 9,500 food packages, 1,000 tarpaulins and 1,000 hygiene parcels.
Cyclone YAAS has struck almost the same areas as cyclone Amphan in 2020. These areas are already struggling to recover from the previous events. For instance, since cyclone AILA in 2009, there has been constant scarcity of potable water. Salinity intrusion has affected the livelihoods and agricultural sectors negatively and recurrence of tropical cyclones has forced people to adopt negative coping mechanisms. The recurrence of disasters has resulted in incomplete repairing and maintenance work on the embankments after each cyclonic event leaving many parts of coastal area vulnerable and susceptible to the risk of broken embankments, overflowing tide waters, inundated living spaces, constraining people’s coping capacity and ability to recover.
A large number of people lost their shelter and livelihoods as per SoS data, which may force them to adopt negative coping mechanisms, further risking a potential increase in gender-based violence, child labor, child marriage and human trafficking. A significant number of the affected population are now without access to safe drinking water and sanitation facilities, more than 18,000 tube well and latrine were damaged (Source: DPHE), which increases the chance of communicable disease outbreaks as well as UTIs and RTIs. Due to scarcity of safe drinking water supply and salinity, Barisal region has a prevalence of diarrheal outbreak. Satkhira and Khulna districts have seen a spike in COVID-19 cases which may affect the response and recovery process as Khulna district is already under a strict lockdown imposed by the local authorities. Continuation of primary and secondary education is uncertain as a large number of institutions have been partially and fully damaged and unable to provide remote based alternative education. During JNA for cyclone Amphan last year70% institutions do not have remote based alternative education system
A short-term (three-six months) coordinated humanitarian response is needed to supplement the efforts undertaken by the GoB and I/NGOs, primarily to ensure that the most vulnerable communities receive targeted humanitarian assistance and protect women and adolescent girls against negative coping strategies. WASH, Food security and livelihood are the top most priorities.
A detailed inter-sector recovery assessment recommended involving relevant government departments and agencies to understand the recovery needs in order to integrate government planning processes to build resilient infrastructure that can withstand the cyclone and tidal risk as well as support communities to recover in terms of livelihood and other critical social and economic sectors.
The upcoming monsoon and cyclone season and increase in COVID-19 cases should be considered in responding to the needs of the large number of people living in shelters, embankments and makeshift places.