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Torrential rains in the desert continue to cause havoc in flood-affected Rajasthan

© UNICEF India/2006/Rao
Flood victims being evacuated to safer areas by soldiers of the Indian Army in Rajasthan‘s Barmer district.

RAJASTHAN, India, 1 September 2006 – The Thar desert of Rajasthan has been hit with devastating flash floods following 100 hours of torrential rains.  The rains, which are typical at this time of year, have been wreaking havoc across India’s northern and western states.

In the severely flood-affected region of Barmer, hundreds of people are believed to have died and more than 1,000 were left stranded due to high waters. The number of fatalities is only expected to increase once the waters begin to recede. 

Barmer has a population of two million people, of which 800,000 have been left homeless. Many residents lost all their assets and are in need of immediate provisions such as clothing, blankets, shelter and clean drinking water.

In support of government efforts, UNICEF is working in the worst affected areas to ensure that children’s immediate needs are being met by dispersing oral rehydration salts, water storage tanks, chlorine tablets, soap and other medical and sanitation supplies.

© UNICEF India/2006/Rao
UNICEF is supplying temporary shelter for residents displaced by the flood.

Due to the mineral-rich local terrain, it is suspected that excess water will not drain easily. The water could stagnate for another six to eight weeks and a serious public health problem could emerge.

The loss of cattle population is estimated to be about 75,000, also giving rise to possible disease outbreaks.

Vital supplies for children

All the schools in the area have been closed, affecting the lives of over 400,000 children. School buildings are being inspected to assess their level of safety before students will be allowed to return.

Commenting on the situation, Deputy Director of Operations for UNICEF India, Ann Hasslebalch said, “The immediate need is to ensure children get clean drinking water and avoid any diseases. Our teams are working night and day to ensure those vital supplies reach the communities as soon as possible. At the same time, we are keen that these children return to school and the disruption to their education is kept to the minimum.”



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