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Bangla blogs seek aid for cyclone Sidr victims

Categories: Bangladesh, Disaster, Humanitarian Response

Five days after cyclone Sidr ravaged Bangladesh, news regarding devastation continues to pour in. Despite steps taken by the administration to evacuate a large number of people and put them out of harm's way, the official death toll has now crossed 3000.

According to the updated statistics provided by the Disaster Management and Control Room (DMCR) in Dhaka, the total number of families affected by Sidr is around 1.054million. As of yesterday's update approximately 3,00,511 houses have been completely destroyed and 6,26,000 have been partially damaged.

About 792 educational institutions have been completely destroyed and 4,393 were partly damaged. Embankments of about 57 kilometres (km) of length have been damaged, and 58km of road has been destroyed completely while 87,948km of road has been partly damaged.
Given that harvest was around the corner, crops too have weathered [1] the brunt of the cyclone. According to government sources, crops on 29,374 acres of land have been completely destroyed and on 8,55,525 acres have been damaged partially.

Officials say that the it will take a few more days until a complete assessment of the damage to life and property falls into place.

Meanwhile, relief operations are in full swing, trying to reach food, medicines, safe drinking water etc. to the cyclone victims. However, more needs to be done and soon. The Bangla blog world is typing fast and furious, trying to garner aid for this cause.

(Photo courtesy Sujan [2])

Blogger Aurangzeb [3] called upon all Bangladeshi citizens to forget their political differences and work together to rehabilitate those affected by the cyclone. His words and emotions were echoed by korbojoy [4] blog.

Nighat tithi [5] pointed out that time and again Bangladesh has had to fight natural calamities – be it frequent floods, the deadly cyclone of 1991 or the current Sidr. While the fight will continue in the days to come, the blogger called upon one and all to do their bit for the present victims of Sidr. Ishtiaq Rouf [6] informed us how Bangladeshi students from Virginia Tech were collecting funds through Paypal and how others too could send in their contribution to the same fund. Other bloggers like Irteza [7], Addabaj [8] and Biborno Akash [9] too provided additional links to organizations/ websites where one could donate money for disaster relief. Farukh Wasif [10] talked about the need for publicizing and thereby enhancing awareness regarding the various disaster relief/aid related proposals

In addition, Biborno Akash linked to a video blogpost [11](En) by Sheril Kirshenbaum where the young marine biologist from Duke University, USA requests viewers to join the rehabilitation drive.

On the other hand, blogger Tirondaz [12] rued that fact that Bangladesh was still dependent largely on International aid every time disaster struck while her neighbor India was gradually gaining the strength to fight her own disasters – like she did when the tsunami struck in 2004. He hoped that the day would soon come when Bangladesh too would be self-sufficient like India in these matters.

Bangla blogging platform Somewherein [13], in association with Save the Children [14], has launched an innovative SMS based campaign “Jagoron” (which literally means ‘the awakening’) to enable those living in Bangladesh to do their bit in aid of Sidr victims. The campaign works as follows:

A mobile phone user types SAVE and sends SMS to a given number. Each SMS costs Bangladeshi Taka (BDT)2. Then Somewherein and other sponsors add a certain monetary figure, currently standing at 15BDT (this is a dynamic figure which will go up as more corporate sponsors join the campaign) for every BDT2 generated through the SMS and the total amount is deposited in the Save the Children Cyclone Relief fund.

For those living outside Bangladesh, Somewherein requests them to send their donations directly to the Save the Children Cyclone Relief fund as this SMS facility is available for local residents only.