ACT Appeal South Asia - India - ASSA-51 (Revision 2): Emergency relief to quake affected
Information provided by the Academy for Disaster Management Education, Planning and Training (ADEPT) (created by the National Lutheran Health & Medical Board, a unit of the United Evangelical Lutheran Church in India [UELCI], which holds ACT membership)
Needs of earthquake-affected communities in Indian Kashmir
ADEPT's operational area for the South Asia quake of October 2005 covers the districts of Baramulla, Uri and Kupwara in the state of Jammu and Kashmir, India. Around 44 villages with a population of about 120,000 (including 35,000 children) are included in the operations.
An intensive workshop was conducted with youth from earthquake-affected villages in the districts of Baramulla, Uri, and Kuppwara. During the workshop an analysis was done using focus groups. The participants expressed their individual and community needs verbally as well as through written documents. The outcome of the discussions is as follows:
The predominant occupations in the region are farming and cattle rearing. The earthquake with the ensuing landslides and rock falls destroyed houses and disrupted the livelihoods of residents in the affected communities. Since all local consumables have to be brought from lower reaches, the cost of living has skyrocketed. This is because of poor road access and destruction of winter reserves. Most items, including food, cost almost 30 percent more than before the earthquake. Even though the army, the government and NGOs have responded to the need for food, medicines and temporary shelter, villagers have found it difficult to carry the items from the road-head. Villages close to the access roads have benefited the most from relief materials. Remote villages and villages far from the access roads were deprived from relief deliveries. The disruption of livelihoods, combined with the shortage of commodities for daily living and the escalation of the cost of living, has done major damage to the local economy. The social outcomes of this are unemployment, escalation in theft, and an increase in child labor with consequent school drop-outs.
The earthquake destroyed school buildings. The education of children has, therefore, been affected. Most schools were staffed with teachers who used to commute every day from nearby towns. Fear and destruction of roads has resulted in many teachers not going to work. Absence of teachers, teaching materials, buildings, etc., is still a major problem that has been left unaddressed. Neither the government nor any NGO has made significant interventions in this issue. The children are idle or are being used for physical labor. This, combined with the psychological impact of the quake, has affected many children badly.
Hospitals and public health centers that were serving the villages were also destroyed. Little has been done to address the health needs of the community. There is a scarcity of doctors, medicines and paramedical staff. The villagers have to climb down to the towns of Uri and Baramulla for medical assistance. Pregnant women, physically disabled and geriatric patients have to be carried on stretchers. Diarrhea occurs due to lack of sanitation, impure drinking water, and ignorance.
Even though the loss of life was not as high as that in Pakistan, the earthquake disrupted the social structure of many families and the community. This is because of migration of families to "safer" ground, combined with missing family members for reasons not clear, and a major change in lifestyle due to the economic problems.
The region has been conflict-ridden for the last 17 years with the villagers having to deal with the constant insecurity of life, belongings, family and children. The earthquake and frequent aftershocks (more than 400 since the killer quake) have heaped more stress upon their already stressed lives. They now live in constant fear due to the aftershocks, landslides, rock falls, etc. Any loud sound or a flash of light can trigger panic.
The predominant psychological effects are fear, anxiety, panic, sleeplessness, agitation and depression.
Challenges of the weather and geography
The state of Jammu and Kashmir is geographically diverse with the foothill plains of Jammu, the valleys and mountains of Kashmir, and the high-altitude plains and mountains of Ladakh. Consequently, the climate is one of extremes - in winter, the temperature plummets to sub-zero levels in the higher reaches, while in summer the heat builds up to the breaking point. There are strong winds, snow and rainfall from November to March. Warm weather begins in the middle of March and lasts until the end of July, but there is a lot of rain at this time too. The rains and thaw sometimes cause landslides and rock falls.
The Uri, Baramulla, and Kuppwara districts of Jammu and Kashmir were shaken by the massive earthquake of October 8, 2005. Shortly afterwards, heavy downpours soaked survivors in late November and turned the mountain paths and quake-loosened topsoil to mush. The rain also caused many landslides. December and January brought the heaviest snowfall of the last three decades with sub-zero temperatures at night. The March thaw caused more landslides and rock falls. In May, the temperatures have soared to 41 degrees Celcius in some areas, making life miserable for those housed in temporary shelters.
The changing weather conditions have prolonged the relief phase of the response to this disaster. In addition, problems with housing, water, sanitation, and health continue to plague survivors seven months after the quake.
Some recent UELCI-ADEPT activities (supported through the ACT appeal)
A team of women doctors with women health attendants began operations in quake-affected Baramulla and Uri districts on April 15. ADEPT's earlier medical-relief operations in the area had highlighted the need to address gynaecological problems that conservative Islamic women are reluctant to discuss with male doctors. Therefore, an all-female medical team was formed and began to undertake follow-up medical camps in the regions that had been covered earlier. The team started operations in Balai relief camp, where around 255 families from Gharkote, Chakla, Singtung, Isham, Gawala, and Dardkote live. The team reported that there is severe water scarcity in the camp with consequent problems of sanitation and hygiene. Many women suffer from gynaecological and skin infections. Women's privacy is also a major issue in the camp. After treating the women and children in the camp, the women's team moved on to other villages.
The men's team continues to operate in the Tangdar region, in the highest reaches close to the Kashmir Line of Control. As of April 30, ADEPT's medical teams had treated more than 27,000 patients in 72 villages, covering a population of more than 150,000 in the districts of Baramulla, Uru, and Kuppwara.
ADEPT-trained youth recruit 1,000 community-support volunteers
ADEPT gave ten youth from quake-affected villages in Kashmir hands-on training and a field exposure in the first week of April. The youth were trained in disaster health, psychosocial response and community-based disaster preparedness. They were charged with training 50 villagers each upon returning home. Within one month, the youth had trained more than 1,000 men and women (744 men and 291 women) in 27 villages in the districts of Uri, Baramulla, Kuppwara, and Doda. The youth harnessed local resources and trained the villagers in psychological first aid, physical first aid, community health and sanitation, and community-based disaster preparedness. In addition, they educated around 300 school children in community-based disaster preparedness.
For further information, please contact:
ACT Communications Officer Callie Long
(mobile/cell phone +41 79 358 3171)
ACT Information Officer Stephen Padre (mobile/cell phone +41 79 681 1868)
ACT Web Site address: http://www.act-intl.org