UNICEF Briefing Note Floods 2007 – India Special Update on 3 August 2007
Submerged houses in Katra block of Muzaffarpur.
The flood situation in the two north Indian states - Bihar and Uttar Pradesh has worsened over the last 2-3 days. These states are the densely populated and have large number of poor and vulnerable people. Requests for UNICEF assistance have been received from both states.
The flood situation in Assam in north east India continues to be grim. Brahmaputra and its nine tributaries continue to flow above the danger level in spite of the reduction in rainfall activity.
UNICEF staff members have done rapid assessments of the affected areas. Apart from items already pre-positioned which have been provided to the flood affected people, UNICEF is considering more requests for assistance from the government.
The Inter Agency meetings are taking place in all three states on a regular basis. UNICEF is playing a lead role in coordination with NGOs, INGOs and government agencies.
UTTAR PRADESH (UP)
The flood situation in UP has suddenly worsened in the last 3 days. Ten districts have parts of their areas under severe to moderate flooding: Khiri, Bahraich, Barabanki, Gonda, Shravasti, Balrampur, Mau, Faizabad, Maharajganj, and Gorakhpur. All districts are part of Terai region in north and north-east of the state bordering Uttaranchal State and Nepal.
This has been caused by heavy rains in the catchments of rivers crossing from north and east of the state. Sudden opening of check dams located in Nepal on Ghaghara, Sharda, Rapti, Rohini and Gandak rivers has also released large quantity of waters into river channels. They are also threatening embankments built along the channel in these districts.
The team of UNICEF (comprising of Emergency Focal Person and WES PO) and its partners in Humanitarian response have already undertaken field visits to ascertain the full extent of the crisis.
There is official report of 14 deaths so far occurring due to floods in different districts. In addition more than 30 people are reportedly drowned when a boat capsized in the river in Maharajganj district on the morning of August 1st.
Since most of the villages are in the low lying areas and the houses are made of mud, there is likelihood of damage (full or partial) to over 50,000 houses.
More than 5,000 schools have been affected and classes have been suspended. Some of these schools are used for sheltering the displaced population, too. The school buildings will require major repair after the floods.
Government, so far, has responded with relief and rehabilitation measures. The rescue operations have been undertaken with the help of police and the relief materials have started reaching people.
Safe drinking water is emerging as major issue in the flood affected areas. Most tube-wells have submerged. Many affected people are reportedly using flood water. There seems to be shortfall in the deployment of medical teams and polythene sheets for shelter. The observations have been shared with the district authorities.
Government has so far sought only limited assistance of UNICEF for bleaching powder, ORS and chlorine tablets. It is, nonetheless, likely there will be need for larger intervention and further government request may follow.
The Inter Agency Coordination Committee comprising of OXFAM, CRS, UNDP and UNICEF is meeting to formulate a coordinated response plan. UNICEF is also in touch with Government at state and district levels and constantly monitoring the situation.
People displaced from flood affected blocks of Muzaffarpur district living in makeshift arrangements
Brahmaputra and its nine tributaries continue to flow above the danger level in spite of the reduction in rainfall activity. 25 of the 27 districts have been reported affected by floods. Over 5.5 million population is reported affected and 19 deaths have been reported so far. 480 Relief Camps and 264 temporary shelters were catering to over 260,000 population as on 01 August 2007.
Most of INGO and NGO partners are providing non-food relief, with the Government providing most of the food relief to the affected. Government of Assam has reported adequacy of medicines across the state.
Second inter-agency meeting to review the flood situation was held in Guwahati on 01 August 2007. UNICEF, NGO, INGO, and other partners attended the meeting. Action Aid Guwahati has set up an NGO Control Room in its office to gather and disseminate information.
UNICEF is providing 300,000 PUR sachets to the government of Assam for water purification. This is in addition to the supplies of mosquito nets, ORS and jerry cans already provided to the flood affected people.
Flood situation in Bihar is becoming more grim. As per the Government of Bihar sources 7 million people in 14 districts are badly affected by flood. In these districts, more than 3,000 villages have been inundated. So far, 22 people have died and the crop loss is estimated at Rs 126 million and more than 40,000 homes worth Rs 10 billion have been damaged or washed away by the water current. As the rains in the catchment areas continue unabated the situation in likely to worsen.
The Initial Rapid Assessment was conducted by staff members of UNICEF in East Champaran and Muzaffarpur districts on 31 July - 1 August, 2007. There is an urgent need to provide relief material to the affected community. The affected population is at present sleeping in open without shelter and without adequate food, water and sanitation facilities. The most immediate need of the affected population is food and shelter, especially to the vulnerable groups of the society-women and children.
Earlier in Spring, UNICEF had pre positioned essential flood relief supplies in advance in order to deal with the impending calamity of floods in seven districts in the state. The items have been provided to the affected communities in the last few days through seven NGO partners in close coordination with district administration. Constant advocacy is also being done with the Government at the state and district level in order to ensure prompt, need-based response.
The items pre positioned include family hygiene kits, ORS, Bleaching powder, Tarpaulin sheets, water storage tanks, IFA Tablets, Jerry cans, Torch light, Halazone tablets, Weighing scale, Note books, pencils and erasers, Vitamin A and Rain coats. The relief materials are being used by affected people in flood affected districts and the stocks have depleted.
As the magnitude and the intensity of the floods are increasing there is a need to scale up the relief work in most affected districts. The India country office in New Delhi is providing additional support to the state office for upscale of the humanitarian intervention.