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Heifer India has completed an initial assessment of project areas affected by the cyclone that hit the eastern coast of India last weekend, and the damage is worse than previously thought. Still, the reports show that damage was less severe than in other places, said Heifer India Country Director Avni Malhotra.

The initial reports received by Heifer India indicate that the project area of Unnayan in the Maryurbhani district was affected most by flash flooding. Downed trees were blocking roads there, and many people in the area were marooned by the high waters. District authorities there were engaged in rescue operations.

Staff is still collecting exact numbers, but the assessments show that there may be many livestock casualties, Malhotra said. The reports also warned that fodder would be in scarce supply and that disease outbreaks were possible due to drinking water contamination. Project participants also lost crops and kitchen gardens to the flooding.

Cyclone Phailin washed away thousands of homes, damaged crops and was dropped more than 10 inches of rain in some regions. Malhotra said previously that Heifer can help many of the families affected rebuild their livelihoods, even if they are not currently involved in projects. Heifer India will participate in meetings to determine a possible role in disaster recovery.

Heifer staff, partners and community members have received training in Community Managed Disaster Risk Reduction, Malhotra said. So far there are no reports of animal casualties or crop damage. We will continue to update the situation for our farmers in India as information is made available. 


Annie Bergman

Annie Bergman is a Global Communications Manager and helps plan, assign and develop content for the nonprofit’s website, magazine and blog. Bergman has interviewed survivors of the Khmer Rouge in Cambodia, beekeepers in Honduras, women’s groups in India and war widows in Kosovo, among many others in her six years at Heifer.