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Providing vital supplies to vulnerable Nepalese families displaced by floods

UNICEF Image: Nepal, flood
© UNICEF Nepal/2007/ Joshi
Having lost everything, many flood survivors are relying solely on food provided by the World Food Programme and distributed through the Red Cross.

By Rupa Joshi

NEPALGUNJ, Nepal, 19 September 2007 – The flood waters from the Dundhuwa river receded over three weeks ago, yet the destruction left in its wake still remains. Most of the homes and food stores of the people of Rajarampur Village have been completely washed away.

"I spoke to a couple, and the river basically went though their house," says UNICEF Country Representative Gillian Mellsop. "They have lost all their food, their pigs and their goats."

Swollen rivers washed away many homes, while others – made of mud and thatch –  simply collapsed. In most cases, it was the homes of already vulnerable, poverty-stricken people which were destroyed. Paddy fields, which provide income for many families, were also destroyed.

© UNICEF Nepal/2007/ Joshi
UNICEF workers distributing treated bed nets and other vital supplies to flood-affected people in Padanaha Village.

“This crop is gone," says Ramesh Kumar Tripathy of the local Red Cross chapter. “The maize crop was flattened and whatever remains will, at best, be used as fodder for cattle.”

About 250 people fled their homes for the safety of their Village Office. There, they waited three days for the rain to stop and the waters to recede.

“We left as soon as we saw the river showing signs of overflowing its banks,” says Phulmati Kori, a young mother of two small children. “I picked up the kids and, along with the other villagers, headed for the Village Office.”
Providing much-needed relief

Flooding is nothing new in this area during monsoon season, and many Nepalese have devised ways to cope.  However, during a severe flood, there is nothing to do but flee for higher ground.


© UNICEF Nepal/2007/ Joshi
UNICEF Nepal Representative Gillian Mellsop crossing the Babai river on her way to Padanaha Village.

“We store grain in raised containers and hang our belongings from the ceiling,” says a flood survivor from Padanaha Village Thagu Prasad Chaudhary. “This time, for three hours we tried to wait out the floods by staying on top of a raised platform we had erected in the village. Then we realised the water was still rising and left in a hurry.”

In response, UNICEF has provided vital relief supplies to many village residents who have been displaced from their homes. The organization has provided hygiene kits, blankets, tarpaulins and bed nets, as well as water purification tablets which have been distributed in partnership with the Government’s Ministry of Health and the Red Cross. Ms. Mellsop handed out supplies at relief distribution centres in several villages in the flood-affected Banke and Bardiya Districts of Mid-far Western Nepal.
"Most of these people are day labourers," said Ms. Mellsop. "The land that they were working on was destroyed and they will have to rely on food supplies provided by the World Food Programme and distributed through the Red Cross.

"These people are living in the most vulnerable areas close the rivers, so they have very little to start with,” Ms. Mellsop continued. “When when a flood like this comes through, they are really back to nothing.”





19 September 2007:
UNICEF Nepal Country Representative Gillian Mellsop reports on her recent tour of flood-ravaged Mid-far West Nepal. 
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