Tearfund responds to South Asia Floods
Large parts of North India, Nepal and Bangladesh are still under water following the worst floods in years, which have claimed over 1000 lives and affected approximately 50 million people. More than 500,000 homes have been destroyed and in many areas people still cling to unstable rooftops to wait for emergency food and supplies to be airdropped.
"The humanitarian situation is now critical," says Prince David, Tearfund's Regional Advisor in India, "Most roads and railways are impassable and communications are severely hampered meaning that people are unable to reach the health facilities and other vital services they need."
"Rising water continues to cut off access to food and drinking water, and with thousands of people living in temporary shelters or out on the higher ground provided by main roads, the risk of disease is increasing at an alarming rate. Moreover with most crops devastated, locals face the prospect of severe food shortages if the floods prevent a second sowing."
The floods are a yearly enemy - killing hundreds, displacing millions and forcing entire populations to live like refuges during the monsoon months. In Bihar, India's poorest state, Tearfund partner, The Discipleship Centre (DC) has been working with local villagers to prepare them for the floods, by ensuring early warning systems are in place, raising embankments, buying boats and ensuring volunteers are trained to rescue villagers, organise shelter camps and administer first aid. Due to these measures, many lives were saved during the current floods, which affected 21 million people and destroyed 500,000 homes across Bihar.
DC is now providing immediate relief by distributing food, shelter materials such as plastic sheeting and, through Tearfund partner, the Emmanuel Hospital Association (EHA), providing medical assistance to an estimated 5,000 families in 20 of the worst affected villages. DC has also set up eight community kitchens, which feed 12,000 people per day.
EFICOR, another longstanding Tearfund partner is providing food, plastic sheets, hygiene kits, water purification tablets and medical assistance, through EHA, to 10,000 families in Bihar's three worst hit districts.
In the northeast Indian state of Assam, where floods have affected an estimated 11 million people and damaged more than 100,000 homes, Tearfund's partner NEICORD is helping around 3000 families move to safer ground and providing food and safe drinking water.
More than two-thirds of Bangladesh is flooded and 40% of the Bangladeshi capital Dhaka is under water. In many places, the sewage system has failed, sending human waste flowing into the streets. Tearfund partner HEED, is providing emergency relief to 12,000 families whilst Tearfund partner Koinonia is working with local partners providing 2000 families with food and rehydration supplies.
"The humanitarian situation is deteriorating rapidly and floods are the perfect breeding ground for water-borne diseases and poisonous snakes," says Alison Fernandes, Tearfund's desk officer for India. "We are already seeing an alarming increase in the number of people suffering from snakebites, dysentery, diarrhoea and cholera, but the impassibility of roads severely hampers attempts by aid agencies to gain access to those needing assistance. To make matters worse, it is early in the monsoon season and there is a real threat that things could get much worse before they get any better."
Notes to Editors
1. Interviews: Prince David, based in Delhi, India, is available for interviews. Please contact Sylvie White on 020 8943 7936 or 07949 181414 to arrange
2. Photos available: Photo credits Jim Loring/Tearfund
3. Tearfund is one of the UK's leading relief and development agencies, working in partnership with Christian agencies and churches around the world to tackle the causes and effects of poverty. www.tearfund.org <http://www.tearfund.org>
For further information, please contact:
Sylvie White, Senior Media Officer on 020 8943 7936 or 07949 181414 or
Keith Ewing, Media Manager on 020 8943 7779 or 07710 573 74