AQUABOX, Rotary District 1220’s own disaster relief charity, has managed a rapid response to the Amphan storm in the Bay of Bengal – despite the charity having been shut down since the start of the Covid-19 pandemic.
From Saturday May 16 to Thursday May 21, Amphan – officially graded as a Super Cyclonic Storm – ripped into the coastal areas on the Bay of Bengal. It was the worst cyclone for the past 20 years, with sustained wind speeds of 150 mph and a peak of 160 mph, and it has resulted in massive damage.
Government sources in the area report that millions of acres of crops have been destroyed due to salt-water flooding, and that more than 200,000 farmers have lost their livelihoods, their homes and belongings. In total, millions of people’s lives have been devastated. On top of that, Covid-19 is already in the area, and although relief camps have been set up, social distancing is impossible.
Mercifully, the death toll from Amphan is low, but with severely limited access to safe water for drinking, personal hygiene, and preparing food, it is likely that many more will suffer and possibly die. That’s where Aquabox steps in, with the Aquafilter – a simple, robust hand-pumped unit which converts polluted water to safe, clean water, and which needs no power source and only minimal maintenance.
Aquabox, which was founded by the Rotary Club of Wirksworth nearly 30 years ago, has shipped two substantial aid packages to Kolkata for local distribution in the cyclone area. The first shipment, by air, left the Aquabox depot in Wirksworth, Derbyshire on June 3 and included 10 community water filters and 60 family filters. At a conservative estimate, the 70 filters will provide clean water for around 4,500 people. The second shipment, by sea, will leave the depot on June 9, and includes 250 Aquabox Gold boxes, each containing a wide range of aid items (shelter building materials, food preparation items and hygiene products) as well as a family water filter. This second shipment will provide access to safe drinking water for a further 1,500 people.
All of this has been achieved despite the current lockdown, because the charity had built up a stock of aid ready to distribute before the lockdown started. Local distribution at Kolkata will be managed through the Eastern Indian Rotary Welfare Trust, a tried and tested partner agency.
Freight costs have risen sharply as a result of the Covid-19 crisis, and in total, these two shipments have cost Aquabox £42,000. That has made a significant dent in the charity’s reserves, at the start of the hurricane season – past experience has shown that there will almost certainly be more demand for Aquabox’s water filters and humanitarian aid boxes before long.
Readers can help to fund Aquabox’s vital work by donating at www.aquabox.org. For more information contact Roz Adamson – firstname.lastname@example.org
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