|© UNICEF Nepal/Shrestha|
|Children crossing the road near Garbari tole in the flood-affected town of Nepalgunj, Banke District, Nepal.|
KATHMANDU, Nepal, 29 August 2006 – UNICEF has started distributing supplies to families affected by devastating floods in the Mid-Western and Far-Western Regions of Nepal.
The Nepal Red Cross Society, UNICEF’s partner in the aid distribution, estimates that some 5,800 households have been affected by flooding in the district of Banke, with a further 5,000 households affected in neighouring Bardiya.
Some 30 per cent of the houses in Banke and 1,030 homes in Bardiya reportedly have been destroyed. Families have been taking shelter on the high ground next to main roads, and six local schools are being used as shelters.
“Our immediate concern for the families is that they have shelter and warmth, and to ensure they can purify their drinking water,” UNICEF’s Representative in Nepal, Dr. Suomi Sakai, said today. “The districts most affected by the flooding are some of the poorest districts in the country. The families living there have been heavily hit both by the internal conflict of the last 10 years and by a recent drought.
“Diarrhoea is a major worry,” Dr. Sakai added. “Some 45 children die each day [from diarrhoea] in Nepal as it is, even without a natural disaster. It is vital that the families can purify water easily.”
|© UNICEF Nepal/Shrestha|
|Flooding in Nepalgunj, Banke District, Nepal.|
Joint mission to Bardiya
Along with the World Food Programme (WFP), the Red Cross and other organizations, UNICEF is working closely with the Government of Nepal to assess the situation and coordinate relief efforts.
The organization is sending technical experts in hygiene and water supply to help with the assessment in flood-affected areas, and its field staff on the ground is already assisting with preliminary surveys.
UNICEF staff also joined a joint mission to Bardiya today with the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, WFP and the United Nations Development Programme.
“If the rains start to ease up soon, there is the possibility that the flood waters will start to recede within a week,” noted Dr. Sakai. “But if the rains continue, the plight of these families may become much worse.”
More supplies en route
Prior to the flooding, UNICEF had emergency supplies pre-positioned at its field office in Nepalgunj, one of the affected districts. These supplies, now being distributed, include 60 tarpaulins for shelter, 375 blankets, 25 boxes of water-purification tablets and 4,000 sachets of oral rehydration salts for treating diarrhoea.
Two further truckloads of supplies are due to arrive in Nepalgunj on Wednesday morning. They will bring a further 1,300 tarpaulins, 1,000 blankets, 159 plastic sheets, 200,000 sachets of water-purification powder, 2 boxes of water-treatment tablets, 1,500 buckets, 1,000 plastic mugs and 540 sets of kitchen utensils.
A final truckload containing 1,000 hygiene kits should be dispatched by the weekend. These kits include soap, towels and clothes, toothbrushes and toothpaste, sanitary napkins, combs, nail cutters and other items.
“We are standing ready to provide further help, should it be needed,” said Dr. Sakai.