IHEU Tsunami Disaster Appeal: Field Report

  • post Type / Action Alert
  • Date / 5 January 2005

IHEU has received a detailed field report from ASM, based on a visit to the area on 2 January by four ASM staff. The full report, [b]Living on the Edge[/b], is available by clicking on [b]Read More…[/b] below. It includes first hand accounts of the disaster and ASM’s preliminary proposals for the rehabilitation project that your donations will support.


“I have lived in this village for the past 27 years. I am married and have two children and two grandchildren. I sell chalk and collect twigs for firewood. December 26 was a beautiful day. At around 9 a.m., I was collecting twigs and the whole village was relaxing as men returned from fishing. I suddenly saw a huge wave, like nothing that I had ever seen before. Our village is 2 kilometers (1.2 miles) from the Bay of Bengal. I panicked and ran and called everybody and when we saw the wave we were alarmed and everybody started to cry. We did not know what to do. We have seen four cyclones since the disastrous 1977 cyclone and tidal wave, but nothing like this. Our cyclone shelter is dilapidated and unfit for occupation. Fortunately, the tidal wave did not kill anybody but it destroyed all our fish nets.” – [i]Kollati Bhulakshmi of Basavanipallem of Koduru Mandal of Krishna District, Andhra Pradesh.[/i]


The affected villages are entirely dependent on fishing. There are two groups of people, those that exclusively catch fish and the other who harvest fish eggs. The community travels on average 2-3 hours into the ocean. They use wooden boats, some of them with small engines.

Sunday is the local market day and most of the fishermen go there to sell their catch. As December 26 was a Sunday, most of the fishermen were at the market. Most of the losses were in Manginpudi Beach, Machilipatnam, Krishna District, which is a popular tourist spot and those who died were non-resident tourists. However, there is a huge loss of livelihoods in the villages, which face the sea. The relief measures reached the villages, which are connected by good roads, but the interior villages as usual were neglected.


Everybody was caught off guard by the tsunami. Our field visits to the areas revealed that many of the fisherfolk lost their fishing nets. They said that they were afraid to venture back into the sea and in fact none of them have gone back to sea singe the disaster for fear of a second tsunami. This has a direct effect on children and women, as fishing is the only source of income. The loss of nets has further aggravated their already fragile economic condition.


Villagers have to walk 10-12 kilometers (6-7 miles) to reach the nearest Primary Health Care Unit for any medical attention. If it is a serious case, hospital facilities are around 30 kms (20 miles) from the villages. A bus runs only twice a day.

[b]Cyclone Shelters[/b]

All the cyclone shelters in the 11 villages are in a dilapidated condition and unsafe for inhabitation.

[b]Drinking Water[/b]

Even though the villagers are surrounded by water everywhere, there is not a drop to drink in most of the villages. They have to walk about 11 kilometers (7 miles), which takes two and half hours of the productive time of women in fetching water. This is heavy work and not good for the health of the women.

[b]Housing Condition[/b]

Villagers who live close to the coast lost their houses as they were washed away. They lost almost all their possessions including basic necessities such as blankets etc.


Thanks to ASM’s advocacy and awareness work in past years, all the villages have schools and all the parents send their children to school. However, some schools are situated in low lying areas that are vulnerable to flooding.

[b]Initial Interventions[/b]

ASM intends to start its rehabilitation work in two villages in which villagers who are dependent on fishing lost their nets.

[b]Basavanipalem[/b] and [b]Pathaupakallu[/b]: each of these villages is located about 2 kilometers (1 mile) from the sea. They were hit by major cyclones on four occasions between 1977 and 2003 and in Dec. 2004 by the tsunami.

Within these two villages, disaster preparedness exercises have been conducted by ASM in the past. Villagers were trained how to save themselves and others. No vulnerability reduction activities have been undertaken except for training.

[b]Voices of the affected[/b]

“I was cutting a tree on an island. I suddenly spotted a herd of cattle running hither and thither and did not know why. As I turned back and looked over my shoulder, I found the sea coming alive as a huge wave was coming towards me. I ran for my life for over half a kilometer until I reached higher ground. But the wave did not stop and still chased me. Finally, it stopped just 200 meters from my village. Three large waves followed one after the other” – [i]a resident of Basavanipalem[/i]

“We travelled one and half hours to a remote island and tied fish nets to the roots of the casurina plants. When the tide comes, it will bring with it fish eggs and that is how we survive. We usually go the evening before and tie the nets and stay on the island overnight and return the next morning. On December 26, we were collecting the fish eggs and as it was a sunny day we were busy as usual. Suddenly, the ground started to shake and the water started to behave differently. We turned back and saw a huge wave wishing us to the shore. All our fishnets were torn to pieces�see here�” – [i]a resident of Patauppakallu. [/i]

“I have been through all the cyclones that hit us since 1977 to 2003, but I never saw anything like this. We can predict cyclones, as the clouds start to get dark there is rain, but the tsunami was all of a sudden. We are afraid of the sea. We did not go back to sea. But what can we do? We have to go fishing to feed ourselves, or else we sleep hungry” – [i]a 60 year old man in Patauppakallu[/i]


ASM plans to undertake the following activities as part of the rehabilitation and reconstruction program:

[b]Providing Fish Nets:[/b] 160 Fish Nets (2 Villages): Rs.640,000. ASM focuses on livelihood as it believes that if livelihoods are rebuilt then communities can become self-sustaining and get back to normality.

[b]Health Camps:[/b] 2 Health Camps: Rs. 50,000

[b]Blankets:[/b] 100: Rs.10,000

[b]Housing:[/b] 100 houses: Rs. 2,000,000. For housing, the government gives a grant of Rs. 20,000. This is only sufficient to construct “pucca” houses (thatched houses). These are like temporary shelters and when any other disaster comes, they are washed away. ASM hopes to provide a matching grant of Rs. 20,000, doubling the Government grant.. This will enable villagers to construct pucca/concrete houses, thus reducing the vulnerability of the communities. Wherever possible, local community contributions either in cash or labour will be sought.

Sanitation: 100 toilets: Rs. 60,000. Women are especially vulnerable in the wake of the disaster. They either have to go to relieve themselves before the sunrise or after the sunset, thereby straining their health. If proper sanitation facilities were available, it would address the health in particular of women and adolescent girls.

Borewells: 2: Rs. 24,000. Drinking water points will reduce the drudgery of women who walk 2-3 hours to fetch pot-full of water.

Mangrove regeneration: 2 kilometer stretch: Rs. 10,000. Mangrove regeneration will protect the communities from water seepage, soil & wind erosion and also will be a source of livelihood and firewood.

Administration (12 months): 1 project director, 2 project coordinators, 5 village organizers, office rent, travel, printing, stationery, computer, communication etc: Rs. 180,000


The activities were arrived at after direct interaction with the tsunami-affected population. ASM intends to start the work in these two villages initially and phase in more villages based on the resources available, as there are many more villages in need of vulnerability reduction.

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