Rebuilding Lives in the Sundarbans, after Amphan
Less than halfway through 2020, West Bengal encountered two calamities – the outbreak of COVID-19 and the ensuing lockdown, which brought life to a halt, and Cyclone Amphan, which left a trail of destruction and cast families who were experiencing marginalization already into a more uncertain future. Both crises left the affected population with no working opportunities, food, and support in close sight.
To support the disaster-affected children, families, and communities in the worst-affected regions of the Sundarbans, ChildFund India, in May 2020, initiated an emergency response intervention.
In June 2020, we joined hands with NDTV to host the #AllforBengal telethon to collect donations for helping the people of West Bengal recover from the devastation. The telethon was supported by JSW Group, Indorama India and JIS Group. Funds raised during this initiative were used to establish temporary homes and shelter, provide home-based learning kits to children, support their continuous psychosocial development, distribute food baskets with 15-day worth nutritious ration for a 5-member family, livelihood restoration of farmers and migrant workers and raise awareness regarding clean water, sanitation and hygiene to prevent water-borne diseases.
With the support of Give India and HSBC, we reached out to 830 affected families in 33 villages/hamlets of Patharpratima and Namkhana Blocks of South 24 Parganas, West Bengal to restore livelihoods of small farmers, migrant workers and other vulnerable populations. Under this intervention, 350 families have been assisted with seeds of potato, brinjal, cauliflower, tomato, bitter gourd and chilli. Organic manure was distributed among the farmers to help them grow local organic vegetables, which they can sell to revive their family income.
Betel vine, which is one of the major cash crops of the Sundarbans region, was destroyed by the cyclone. To revive the vineyards, ChildFund India provided the affected families with the initial aid in the form of lathis, GI wires, spray machines with drums, ropes, etc. to rebuild the structures and cultivate betel vine to sell in the local market. The intervention benefitted approximately 265 people from 55 families.
Furthermore, 150 migrant families, who returned to the Sundarbans due to Covid-19-led lockdown, were supported with labour tools. This reduced the migrants’ need of hiring labour tools from others and increased their prospects to find daily wage opportunities locally. Besides, we reached out to the fishing community in the region whose livelihood was brought to a standstill by the cyclone. Through this project, we provided them with supplies including fishing nets, anchors, ropes, etc. to revive their economic activities and earnings. Also, we assisted 150 families with poultry, poultry feed and medicines, enabling them to establish a backyard poultry business.