India Floods Update: 20 August 2007
The flood situation in Bihar continues to be grim following fresh, heavy rains over much of the earlier affected areas. The situation may worsen with major rivers rising due to rains in the upper reaches of Nepal and catchment areas.
According to government figures, the floods have affected 38.07 million people in India thus far. As many as 31,514 villages have been affected and 343,614 houses have been fully damaged. The number of lives lost has reached 1,835 in total.
Heavy rains have lashed parts of northern Uttar Pradesh as well as neighbouring Uttaranchal. This has resulted in a second wave of displacement for some communities in the districts of Barabanki, Bahraich, Shravasti, Gorakhpur and Balrampur, some for the second time. 195 human lives have been lost in these areas alone.
The flood situation in Orissa and Assam is largely under control, although relief action is ongoing and humanitarian needs persist.
Bihar and Uttar Pradesh continue to be the primary focus of UNICEF’s multi-sectoral interventions, followed by Orissa and Assam.
Nearly 15 million people in 19 districts in north Bihar are now believed to be affected by the flooding.
UNICEF together with the Government of India Health Department have set up 90 mobile medical teams and about 200 medical relief sites in the flood affected districts. These teams examine approximately 25,000 patients a day and thus far, a total of over 120,000 patients have been examined and medically treated.
UNICEF also worked with the Government of India Health Department in reaching and vaccinating 15,000 children against measles and provided Vitamin A and 250,000 tablets of iron folic acid (IFA) tablets to 15,000 pregnant women and adolescent girls in the 8 worst affected districts.
UNICEF has despatched 10 trucks of relief materials to district magistrates/special district magistrates; 8 trucks to chief medical officers (CMOs) in the affected districts and 13 trucks to UNICEF-supported NGOs in 13 flood affected districts. The relief materials include:
- 500,000 halogen tablets for water purification
UNICEF alongwith NGOs have developed a comprehensive medium-term action plan in the different sectors with special focus on the eight worst affected districts (Darbhanga, Madhubani, East Champaran, Sheohar, Sitamarhi, Muzaffarpur, Samastipur and Khagaria), in support of the government’s relief and rehabilitation efforts.
The government’s Department of Public Health and Development (PHED) have provided raised hand-pumps in the affected villages where water has receded, and temporary handpumps on the embankments in all 11 districts.
The 223 medical teams deployed by the government in the districts continue to provide emergency medical relief to the affected population.
The work of repairing breached embankments has started in some areas in East Champaran district where the water has receded.
Per government estimates, nearly 1.16 million people are still affected by floods out of which 68,000 are displaced and living in shelter camps.
New heavy rainfall has occurred in some parts of U.P. provoking further displacement and underscoring that humanitarian relief will need to be continued for the immediate future.
The government-deployed 350 medical teams are in place in the affected areas providing emergency medical services to the flood-affected populations. Supply of relief materials, chlorine tablets and bleaching powder is continuing.
UNICEF has scaled up its interventions in Uttar Pradesh. Three NGOs have been identified to help conduct a post-flood water and sanitation plan in the 4 worst affected districts: Balrampur, Bahraich, Shravasti and Barabanki. The priority tasks are:
UNICEF continues disease surveillance and prevention in the affected districts. 105 mobile clinics facilitated by UNICEF will reach out to severely affected and inaccessible villages to provide immunisation, treatment of general ailments, medication, ORS and chlorine tablets to the displaced population.
The overall situation is improving inspite of fresh rainfall reported in different parts of the state. Displaced people are returning to their villages, however, under severely degraded environmental conditions.
In a recent decision, the central government approved a proposal of the Assam Government to conduct a measles vaccination campaign (6 months to 14 years) in the affected districts. UNICEF will support this drive.
The total population affected by floods this year in Assam stands at 6.7 million according to government estimates.
Advocating with the Health Department on the urgency of measles immunisation for all children in camps (9 months to 14 years), UNICEF will now administer this massive initiative, including distribution of Vitamin A supplements in the 6 worst affected districts.
UNICEF made available 20,000 ORS sachets, 200,000 PUR sachets and 2,000 impregnated mosquito nets to the health department and designated NGO partners to address malarial outbreak.
100,000 sachets of PUR were separately made available to the Department of Public Health and Development to improve sanitation conditions in camps and affected villages.
Rainfall is continuing in the southern parts of the state. Breaches in the embankments of rivers resulted in water overflowing into agricultural land destroying standing crops and inundating the cultivable land.
Road communication has been cut off between districts in the south of Orissa.
Although waters are receding, fears of outbreak of enteric diseases in the flooded areas are a district threat.
UNICEF in collaboration with UNDP and other UN agencies is closely monitoring the situation. Additional pre-positioning of emergency relief materials is ongoing.
Simultaneously, in anticipation of floods recurring, UNICEF has established a database of NGOs in the flood prone districts and will soon start training them in emergency response, community mobilisation and distribution and monitoring of supplies.