Environmental Health and the 1991 Bangladesh Cyclone

BILQIS A. HOQUE, R. BRADLEY SACK, ALAM M. JAHANGIR, NAZRUL HAZERA, MIZAN SIDDIQI, ALI NAHID

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Abstract

A brief post‐disaster study was undertaken soon after the cyclone of 1991 in Bangladesh to make a preliminary assessment of existing environmental health conditions. Eighty affected people and 26 relief personnel from the affected areas were interviewed. Faecal coliform counts, salinity conductivity and pH values were determined for 43 water samples from tubewells and ponds. The quality of 32 samples of water purifying tablets was also tested. Water scarcity was acute, especially water used for washing and personal hygiene. The situation was made worse by the fact that the surface water sources (ponds) which were commonly used for domestic purposes other than drinking were flooded, highly contaminated and regarded as unusable. The user load on existing tubewells doubled, indicating a significantly increased demand for the tubewell water which is commonly used for drinking purposes only. The majority (63 per cent) of the water purifying tablets were found to have lost potency. Sanitation was very poor in households as well as in field clinics and shelters. Most people, including relief personnel, lacked environmental health knowledge. Suggestions regarding immediate preparations for disaster relief include: restoring water systems (tubewells and ponds), training courses for relief personnel, standardizing of water purifying tablets, promoting appropriate water use and its treatment, maintaining sanitation in clinics and shelters and improving the skills and resources of local people to enable them to cope with the situation.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)143-152
Number of pages10
JournalDisasters
Volume17
Issue number2
DOIs
StatePublished - Jun 1993

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Social Sciences(all)
  • Earth and Planetary Sciences(all)

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    HOQUE, BILQIS. A., SACK, R. BRADLEY., JAHANGIR, ALAM. M., HAZERA, NAZRUL., SIDDIQI, MIZAN., & NAHID, ALI. (1993). Environmental Health and the 1991 Bangladesh Cyclone. Disasters, 17(2), 143-152. https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1467-7717.1993.tb01141.x