KATHMANDU, Nepal, 27 July 2004 – Nearly 37,000 families are estimated to have been displaced by monsoon flooding in Nepal, according to a Nepal Red Cross report issued today. Nearly 180 people are reported to have died, another 35 have been reported missing and some 307 people are reported to have been injured in the floods.
UNICEF Nepal reports that more than 23,500 houses, 45 schools, 72 bridges and 255 km of road are reported to have been completely destroyed, along with nearly 44,000 houses that were partially destroyed by the floodwaters.
Flooding is concentrated in 20 districts in the Central and Eastern regions in the hills and the flat lands of the Terai. Another two hill districts in Western region of the country are also affected. This is due in part to the flooding of local streams; however in the Eastern part of the country two of the largest rivers – the Khoshi and the Kamala have burst their banks. In addition to the floodwaters, landslides are a particular problem in the hilly areas.
Assisting those in need
Monitoring visits by UNICEF staff have indicated that many of the displaced people are poverty-stricken, landless families who have been living on the banks of rivers and in other marginal low-lying land. UNICEF has been providing oral rehydration salts (ORS) and chiura (beaten rice that does not need cooking) to affected families and communities. The supplies have been distributed via the UNICEF network of village facilitators, under the programme for ‘Decentralized Action for Children and Women’.
UNICEF has also sent 2,000 packets of ‘Piyush’ (chlorine-based water purifying agents) to four flood-affected districts in the eastern and central regions of Nepal. This quantity is sufficient for 2,000 families for about one month.
Of equal concern, and also linked to the monsoon, has been the seasonal rise in deaths and illness due to diarrhoea, particularly in the mid-and far western regions. The Ministry of Health has reported that some 12,800 people in 22 of Nepal's 75 districts have been affected, of whom 177 are reported to have died. UNICEF's prepositioned stocks of ORS have been used to help those affected, and UNICEF has also flown another 2,000 packets of Piyush to the region.