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South Asia: Floods/Landslides - Information Bulletin n° 2

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This bulletin is being issued for information only.

The South Asia region has witnessed heavy annual monsoon rains over the past several weeks, leading to flooding and landslides. While India and Pakistan have been heavily affected, Nepal and Bangladesh have been less so. Although Afghanistan has not experienced a monsoon, the country witnessed flash floods a few days prior to the report being made. The flooding and landslides across South Asia has resulted in a large loss of lives and property affecting millions of people.

The Red Cross and Red Crescent societies in South Asia, with the support of the International Federation, are responding proactively to the floods/landslides and taking steps to address the imminent danger of further flooding/landslides. This bulletin provides an overview of activities.

The Situation

The South Asia region has witnessed heavy annual monsoon rains over the past few weeks, leading to flooding and landslides. While India and Pakistan have been heavily affected with heavy flooding reported from different parts of these countries, Nepal and Bangladesh have been less so. Many parts of Nepal experienced monsoon related floods and landslides though Bangladesh reported some rain-induced landslides and wall collapses in a few districts. Although Afghanistan is not affected by the monsoon, the country witnessed flash floods a few days prior to the date of reporting. The flooding and landslides across South Asia has resulted in a large loss of lives and property affecting millions of people. More details on country-specific situation and Red Cross Red Crescent action, as well as an overview of preparedness levels of national societies across the region can be found on the International Federation's website (three information bulletins each for India and Pakistan and one information bulletin for South Asia at the following link - http://www.ifrc.org/where/asiapac.asp) and the International Federation's intranet (country updates for Nepal, Afghanistan, India and Pakistan on the Disaster Management Information System at the following link - https://www-secure.ifrc.org/dmis/prepare/view_bydisaster.asp).

This year, early monsoon rains hit India with heavy to very heavy rainfall in 19 states, of which the five most severely affected have been Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, Assam, West Bengal and Orissa. The floods caused by the monsoon killed 1,063 people and affected approximately 7.9 million people throughout the country. A number of states (Rajasthan, Uttar Pradesh, Maharashtra, Kerala and Karnataka), which have not usually been prone to flooding in the past, have also been hit by floods this year, resulting in human and monetary losses as the populations in these states have not been ready to cope with such flooding. According to forecasts from the Indian meteorological department, a low pressure area is likely to form over northwest Bay of Bengal and 2 adjoining coastal areas of north Orissa and West Bengal. Under its influence, widespread/fairly widespread rainfall with isolated heavy to very heavy rainfall is likely over Orissa, north Andhra Pradesh, Chhattisgarh and east Madhya Pradesh states, subsequently shifting to the states of Maharashtra and Gujarat.

One week after monsoon rains throughout Pakistan created floods situation in different parts of the country, particularly in Punjab province, North West Frontier Province (NWFP), Baluchistan province and the Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA), flood water in most of the affected communities has receded. According to government sources, the death toll reported so far totals 40 people, with thousands more affected. The Pakistan meteorological department has predicted scattered thunderstorms and rain in upper Punjab, including Islamabad, upper NWFP and Kashmir, and at isolated places in southern Punjab and southeast Sindh during the next 24 hours. Several families who were rendered homeless by the floods continue to stay on roads and other safer places. Safe water supply remains a problem. Relief operations by the government and NGOs are currently underway, providing families with food and non-food relief items, clean and safe drinking water as well as basic health services.

The monsoon started in Nepal a few weeks prior to the date of reporting and has already caused floods and landslides in many parts of the country. To date 30 of 75 districts of the country were reported to have been affected by floods and landslides, recording 65 deaths and leaving more than 700 families affected. In addition, 413 houses had been partially damaged and 115 houses had been completely damaged. The initial estimated loss predicated is around two million Nepalese rupees (CHF 32,000 or USD 29,000). The situation is under control at the local level.

In Afghanistan, though the spring flash floods from melting snows following the harsh winter and the spring rains during April-June did not come as expected, subsequent rainfall resulted in flash flooding across the country causing some damage to infrastructure and livelihoods. On 10 August 2008, it was reported that a number of districts in Jalalabad province were hit by flash floods, destroying 36 houses and partially affecting hundreds of others, though no casualties have been reported yet.

During the first half of July this year, rain-induced landslides and wall collapses in three locations of the Cox's Bazaar district of Bangladesh reportedly killed 16 people and displaced more than 450 families. Another three people died in similar wall collapses in Sirajganj and Comilla districts. According to the government's flood forecasting and warning centre, the monsoon is currently moderately active across the country with most major rivers continuing a moderate fall in their levels. Red Cross and Red Crescent action As indicated in the previous information bulletin, the Red Cross and Red Crescent societies in South Asia, with the support of the International Federation, are responding proactively to the floods/landslides and taking steps to address the imminent danger of further flooding/landslides. In their efforts, the national societies have relied on large networks of volunteers living and working in the affected communities, thus ensuring commitment to, and ownership of, long-term disaster management efforts.

To date the national societies have responded to the floods by distributing non-food relief items to affected communities from their pre-positioned stocks; mobilising their national, state and district disaster response teams and deploying these where required; deploying medical teams to provide basic heath care and treatment to affected communities and to distribute free medicines among them; providing safe drinking water to affected populations and undertaking water purification measures; and coordinating with the governments of their respective countries as well as Movement and non-Movement partners involved in flood response activities. National contingency plans for flood response are being developed/finalized and in some cases, for instance in Pakistan, have already been activated.

MAP - South Asia: Floods/Landslides (as of 14 Aug 2008)