Press Release: Post cyclone Phailin, there is immense suffering for the slum dwellers of Berhampur. Parts of Ganjam were devastated by the cyclone that hit shores of Odisha at Gopalpur on the night of 12th October. Several houses were damaged; electricity was cut off due to which normal life of the people has been affected and issues like housing, sanitation and lack of access to clean water have become rampant.
“I am yet to receive any assistance from the Government except for the rice, my house has been damaged, and two of my children are sleeping under the trucks at night. The rains don’t seem to stop, at we need support till things are back to normal. A huge electric pole fell on my thatched roof on the deadly night and we became homeless” said K.Jaganath Rao a local residing in Pitabhui slum at Berhampur. Children are seen crying at night and women break down narrating that fateful night’s experience.
People’s Rural Education Movement (PREM) and Youth for Social Development (YSD) are addressing the immediate needs of the children by providing baby food, tarpaulin, and essential commodities like bleaching powder, candles, solar lights to the households. Out of the 137 slums in Berhampur, PREM and YSD have intervened in 62 slums, catering to 4800 families and 8200 children. They are being supported by Humara Bachpan a national campaign that has been advocating for safe and healthy living conditions for young children growing up in urban poverty in India.
Dr. Jacob Thyundyl of PREM has appraised the Commissioner and Mayor of Berhampur to provide temporary short term shelters in the line of Mamta Gruhas that were built during 1999 super cyclone to house children, women and the elderly. These temporary shelters will protect them from the inclement weather, harassment and can also be learning and day care centres for young children.
“Children are always badly affected in disasters, neglected and invisible when the relief and rehabilitation takes place. The emphasis is always on brick and mortar and never on the emotional trauma that affects people especially young children. . The evacuation, and nights spent in dark relief centres has invoked fear in the children. Psycho-social counselling would promote calming, connectedness, that would allow a child to come out of the panic created by the disaster situation.” said Sradhanjali Sahu, Regional Campaign Coordinator of Humara Bachpan.