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UNICEF action in flood affected East and West Midnapore districts of West Bengal

© Anil Gulati/ UNICEF/ 2008
Prabhang Saimaiti's submerged house in Bhawanpar village. Until now in the floods this year, 7,810 villages have been affected.16,000 houses have fully collapsed while 22,000 have partly collapsed.

Anil Gulati

Patashpur Block, East Midnapore, June 23, 2008:  Sumitra studies in Class Four in a government run school at Patashpur. For the last four days she has not gone to school because her school is under water.

She is busy helping her parents and grand parents, to save whatever household goods they can possibly recover from their water logged home. Others feel they are still fortunate as they could recover some of their household goods.

Prabhang Saimaiti of Village Bhawanpar, in Patashpur is not so fortunate. His house is under water. He points his finger to show his house to me. I could barely see a thatched roof on the surface of the flood waters, that too after climbing a tree.

He says sadly, "Just three days of water and it has taken away all our family had. We have nothing. I don't know what to do”. Presently he and his family are living in the temporary roadside camp, made up of bamboo stilts with tarpaulin on the top.
 
Patashpur in the East Midnapore district of West Bengal witnessed incessant rains in the last few days leading to increasing water levels in its adjoining rivers gushing into their homes.

Though rains have eased a bit, the water level is going down very slowly and much water remains stagnated. Many villages are still inundated. Thousands of homes have been either completely or partially destroyed. 

"We have faced floods before but this time the extent is unbelievable. The worst hit villages in my block are Arogal, Malikpur, Mathura, South Khanda, Taliya, Debuwad Paniya and Jabda" shares Vijay Ashish Rai, a Gram Panchayat member from Debuwad village of Patashpur.

"Water has got collected and is seeping down very slowly. Out of 200 – 250 houses in my village about 90 percent have been completely destroyed” adds Kaniadass, another resident of Debuwad village.

The District Administration and Government of West Bengal have set up 550 relief camps for the affected people in East Midnapore district including Patashpur.

© Anil Gulati/ UNICEF/ 2008
A volunteer with Ramakrishan Mission Lokasiksha Parishad distributing and explaining the use of Halogen Tablets as provided by UNICEF

District authorities are providing relief supplies, food packets, ORS, safe drinking water, medicine in these camps. The Indian Army and the Department of Civil Defence are helping to rescue people with speed boats, and reaching out to marooned people with food, water and medicines.
 
A total of over 2.70 million people in 17 blocks of West Midnapore and 15 blocks of East Midnapore have been impacted.

In all 7,810 villages have been affected. 16,000 houses have fully collapsed while 22,000 have partly collapsed. The West Bengal government is leading the relief effort. It has set up 1,136 relief camps for the affected. It is supplying food packets, tarpaulins, safe water pouches, halogen tablets, ORS packets and bleaching powder for the affected.

UNICEF has rushed supplies such as 2000 jerry cans for storing safe drinking water, 12,000 oral rehydration solution packets, 50,000 halogen tablets, 5 MT bleaching powder, 30,000 water purifiers, 1500 family hygiene kits, said Lori Calvo, State Representative for UNICEF office in West Bengal. 

UNICEF is mobilizing an additional 1500 jerry-cans, 100,000 halogen tablets, 40,000 ORS packets and 3000 tarpaulins and IEC material to send to the affected population.

“The supplies are being distributed through our partner organization Ramakrishna Mission and their network for the affected villages of East and West Midnapore district of West Bengal” she added.

“An inter-sectoral team is in the district to assess the damage due to floods in terms of population affected, living conditions of families, women and children, availability of basic minimum for survival i.e. safe drinking water, sanitation, hygiene. We would be with district teams in supporting relief and rehabilitation measures”, she further adds.

UNICEF is also mobilizing a network of volunteers through its partner organization, the Ramakrishna Mission to support the efforts of the district administration.

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