In the previous edition of the newsletter we introduced the initiative of Project Swarnivar in partnership with Vibha to assist with the response to Cyclone Amphan in the North and South 24 Paraganas in West Bengal. Some of the worst affected villages were in the Deganga, Sandeshkhali, Hingalganj and Baduria-Swarupnagar zones and this is where Project Swarnivar’s efforts were concentrated.
More than 27 people died in the first two days of the cyclone. More than 21,000 houses destroyed and thousands of cattle lost. More than 70% of the farmland was destroyed by the brackish water due to river dyke erosion. Several trees were grounded and there was a heavy loss of Boro Paddy and vegetables. The entire village of Khulna-Situlia Hatgacha in the Sandeshkali block was submerged in saline water, and 97% of the residents had to be placed in temporary shelters, which exacerbated the spread of COVID-19. Dyke erosion and brackish water made villages in the Hingalganj block unsustainable for living. With a majority of the food sources washed away or swamped with saline water, families rely on day-long expeditions in the forest to fish and procure food and spend up-to 2 hours a day searching for water to drink.
Significant progress has been made in delivering relief efforts to these areas. Based on Project Swarnivar’s appeal, Vibha US sanctioned dry food (puffed rice, oil, lentils, biscuits, flattened rice), soap, detergent, plastic sheets and water pots to be provided as aid to villagers. Vulnerable families with children under the age of 10 were prioritized for immediate aid efforts in each block. 100 families were selected in the Sandeshkali block, 75 in the Hingalganj block and 25 in Baduria-Swarupnagar. The Prime Minister’s helicopter even did an aerial survey of the most severely affected brick kiln villages in Baduria-Swarupnagar. About 100 children were also selected for immediate response from the two new Prayash (child-care) centers in the Baduria and Deganga zones, a mission inaugurated by local government leaders and social workers.
The support of Project Swarnivar and Vibha has played a significant role in the rehabilitation of the villages in the North and South 24 Paraganas. Project Swarnivar is the most trusted local service organization in this area. There has also been substantial aid and cooperation from the local sub-division legal authorities in the delivery of services, especially with transportation to some of these areas which were inaccessible to motor vehicles due to poor road conditions and required crossing 2 rivers on a boat.
Swanirvar supports the education of children in these villages. Vibha funds the training of teachers to support their mission. More details can be found at their website: http://projects.vibha.org/projectfilter/funding-full-time-swanirvar-trainer
Vibha US, Project Swarnivar. “Humanitarian Assistance to Amphan Victims”, May 2020.