The extremely severe cyclonic storm Fani made its landfall on May 3rd, at Puri, Odisha. It was the strongest summer cyclone to hit Odisha in 43 years. The storm unleashed strong winds of up to 240 kmph, destroying houses and crops along with uprooting trees, electric poles and mobile towers.

The death toll has become 34 and is likely to rise. However, the Government of Odisha has received praises from national and international community including the United Nations for its commendable efforts in evacuating over 1 million people, failing which the death toll could have been worse.

An estimated 3 million people in 10,000 villages and 52 urban agglomerations in around 11 districts have been affected by Cyclone Fani. This is the current estimate and may go up as more confirmations come in from the government in the coming days. 

Thousands of hectares of crops have been completely damaged by the winds and inundation from the sea water in coastal areas. There has also been severe loss of livestock.  Many of the fishermen’s boats have also been completely damaged. Due to the loss of livelihood, there is fear of people migrating to find alternative means of earning and this could severely affect children and women.

World Vision India’s rapid assessment team conducted a focus group discussion and many children have expressed concern that they may not be able to go to school because the roofs of many schools have been blown away or have been badly damaged. 

The district of Puri was the worst hit, along with Bhubaneshwar, the state capital. As a result, the communities in World Vision India’s Bhubaneswar Area Development Programme (ADP) have been badly affected. The districts of Cuttack, Bhadrak, Kendrapara, Jagatsinghpur, Balasore, Mayurbhanj, Keonjhar, Dhenkanal and Nayagarh have also been affected.

“World Vision India has previously responded during the super cyclone of 1999 and the cyclone Phailin, both of which made landfall around the same areas. We have also worked in some of the flood-affected areas in these districts. We are working closely with the Government in our relief efforts for cyclone Fani,” said Cherian Thomas, CEO & National Director, World Vision India.

Based on initial assessment reports and media reports World Vision India will be focussing on immediate relief, shelter, child protection and livelihood interventions.

World Vision India plans to rush emergency relief to 20,000 families in the districts of Bhubaneshwar, Puri, Cuttack and Jagatsinghpur. Our response will cover the sectors of Food, shelter, WASH and child protection. Gender and disability will also be our sectors of focus, in all our response. Livelihood recovery will be a priority sector as thousands of hectares of crops have been destroyed. 

The relief phase is likely to span three months while recovery phase might continue for a year. “Our response teams on ground in Odisha are assessing the situation to begin immediate relief response.” said Franklin Jones, Head, Humanitarian Emergency Affairs, World Vision India.

World Vision India has also started setting up Child Friendly Spaces (CFS) in the transition centres where displaced people are staying. We are setting up 13 child friendly spaces in Bhubaneswar to protect children. More than 85 children attend the CFS as on date, which is operational in the transition shelters of Bhubaneswar.

“Children are extremely vulnerable in situations like these”, said Tabitha Vani, World Vision India’s Child Protection Specialist of Cyclone Fani Response. She further added that “Apart from physical dangers such as being hit by flying debris, children can get separated from their parents in the chaos, and in the aftermath they are susceptible to communicable diseases. We will do everything in our power to meet any needs of these children and families. It is wonderful to see children playing, drawing and to hear so much laughter. The cyclone affected children have been through so much hardship, so being able to offer these safe places to children means they can forget about their troubles and start to rebuild."

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