Nicholas Schifrin, part of our recent expansion of reporters stationed around the globe, blogs from Bangladesh: Along the Kocha river in Bangladesh in the days after Cyclone Cidr, only the moon can stop you from seeing the stars. I was traveling back from the southern coast on a hired boat (top speed about 2 mph) that earlier in the day took me and my team to the town to Chaltabunia, which had been ripped apart by the wind and the rain. Hundreds of lakeside villages line the riverbanks here. They do not have much, but they do have electricity, or they did. Tonight, there wasn’t a single light on for 50 miles. In the dark, the villages were scenes of rebuilding and sadness. (At left, Cyclone affected villagers carry corrugated iron sheeting to repair their damaged house in Potuakhali, 152 kilometers (95 miles) south of Bangladesh’s capital Saturday, Nov.17, 2007.) The cyclone hit this area the hardest, not only because the force with which it traveled was equivalent to a strong category 4. It’s because this is one of the poorest places on the planet. The U.N. Human Development Index ranks this country 137 out of 177. The per capita GDP is one-sixth of what it is in the United States. And it’s one of the most crowded countries in the world. Shaparjat is one of the countless poor, crowded villages we saw. Residents tried to tell me that thousands of people live there, but it felt like a one-horse town with a few hundred residents. There is a main building used as a school and there are homes tightly packed around walkways and small streams that run through the town. The residents are mostly fisherman, as are the vast majority of people in this area. The Kocha river is only about a five-minute walk. There is nowhere else to go, nothing else to see. Houses, a single building, and the fish swimming in the water. That’s all these people have.
Continue reading Nick’s entry here.