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World Vision prepares communities for Cyclone Mahasen

  • Ready to respond in Bangladesh, Myanmar, India and Sri Lanka as needed
  • Preparations include opening emergency shelters, pre-positioning hygiene kits, food and other survival items

Media contact:

Lauren Fisher
World Vision Media Relations Manager
206.310.5476 (c)

Chittagong, BANGLADESH (May 15, 2013) As Tropical Cyclone Mahasen travels north-east through the Bay of Bengal, humanitarian agency World Vision is prepared to mount a relief response across vulnerable areas in Bangladesh, Myanmar, India and Sri Lanka. The cyclone’s current path anticipates landfall in Bangladesh this Friday.

The highest impact, tidal surge and rainfall are predicted to hit Chittagong and Cox Bazaar areas in Bangladesh but could also threaten at least 8.2 million people, many of them children, living along the coastlines of northeast India, Myanmar and Sri Lanka.

“We are especially concerned about people living in the coastal areas in these countries,” said Jeff Wright, World Vision’s Emergency Operations Director. “In many of the areas, sub-standard housing means people have little protection from the heavy wind and rain that comes with a cyclone. Often housing is destroyed or damaged severely in a storm like this, and livelihoods like crops can be flattened, impacting a family’s main source of income.”

As part of preparedness measures, World Vision has mobilized relief workers and community volunteers, enacted community disaster response plans, opened emergency operations shelters and is working with partners to support evacuees.

"Our staff in all four countries are working closely with their governments to maximize preparedness measures. We hope with preparedness plans in place, unnecessary loss of lives can be minimized and the wellbeing of children can be prioritized. It is better to be over-prepared in a situation where multiple countries are at risk of being impacted," said Angelina Theodora, World Vision Humanitarian and Emergency Affairs Advisor for Asia Pacific.

In Bangladesh, World Vision is ready to distribute hygiene kits, food and other survival items, with 1,000 relief packs in place. Several emergency shelters have already been set up and nearly 500 volunteers are distributing emergency information on how to prepare for the storm in communities where World Vision works. Both staff and volunteers are prepared to deploy for medical help if needed. World Vision has received reports that the government has begun some evacuations in the most high-risk coastal areas and the international airport in Chittagong has been closed.

World Vision in Myanmar is partnering with state agencies in Rakhine state – an area projected to be hit by the cyclone – to make relief supplies, survival packs and clean water available for immediate distribution. World Vision has already supplied partners with more than 100,000 water purification packets. In the wider area where the cyclone could hit, supplies, including 700 units of special non-food item kits (which contain blankets, mosquito nets, clothing, cooking pots and utensils, hygiene items) and one million P&G Purifiers of Water are pre-positioned in our strategically-located warehouses. 10,000 family kits are in place containing essential items for shelter like tarps and mats. Our warehouses are on alert to provide family kits as need demands.

In India and Sri Lanka, World Vision has helped create community task forces to prepare for emergencies and helped with the evacuation of communities. Relief supplies are also in place and ready to meet the immediate needs of those who will be affected. 6,000 relief packs composed of bed nets, mats, bed sheets and water bottles are ready at Guwahati emergency centers in India. In Sri Lanka, World Vision has pre-positioned 1,300 hygiene kits and 1,000 water containers.

The Asia and Pacific region is extremely vulnerable to natural disasters. World Vision prioritizes disaster risk reduction in its disaster management programming, including prevention, mitigation and preparedness.

“Following Cyclones Sidr and Nargis in 2007 and 2008, we know major storms can have a huge impact and result in a great loss of life, especially in vulnerable coastal communities. World Vision and local governments have done extensive work preparing communities for severe weather,” Wright said. “World Vision works with communities that could be impacted by these types of storms. We help them identify risks and where they could be vulnerable. Then we empower them to develop their own plan for when a disaster strikes, from how to connect with early warning systems to finding the best evacuation routes.”

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About World Vision
World Vision is a Christian relief, development, and advocacy organization dedicated to working with children, families, and their communities worldwide to reach their full potential by tackling the causes of poverty and injustice. For more information on their efforts, visit WorldVision.org/press or follow them on Twitter at @WorldVisionNews