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South and Southeast Asia - Floods Fact Sheet #1, Fiscal Year (FY) 2000

Situation Report
Originally published


Early, prolonged, and heavy monsoons since July have caused extensive flooding in much of South and Southeast Asia. In particular, the floodwaters have impacted areas of western Bangladesh and northern and northeastern India and the Mekong River Basin area in Southeast Asia. Flooding in Bangladesh and India was exacerbated by poor drainage and the release of water from dams and reservoirs in India.

Official reports estimate that the seasonal monsoons have affected more than thirty-five million people, displaced hundreds of thousands, killed over two thousand, and extensively damaged agriculture, infrastructure, and personal property.

The recent monsoons are being described as the worst flooding in seventy-five years for Vietnam’s delta region, forty years for Cambodia, and in a century for western Bangladesh and West Bengal, India.

With the monsoon season continuing through November, additional rains may further impact the current flood situation in South and Southeast Asia.

USAID/OFDA humanitarian assistance for the current flooding in Asia totals $3,120,074 to date (including assistance in FY 2000 and FY 2001). USAID/OFDA assistance includes the provision of relief commodities, and funding to support appeals and grants that address humanitarian needs in the following sectors: water/sanitation, health, food assistance and distribution, agriculture, shelter, emergency household supplies, humanitarian transport, and general relief support. USAID/Food for Peace (FFP) has provided more than 5,160 metric tons (MT) of emergency food assistance valued at $2,235,000. In addition, the Department of Defense (DOD) has transported commodities to Vietnam at an approximate cost of $200,000.

Current Situation


The flooding most severely impacted the districts of Magura, Satkhira, Jessore, Kushtia, Meherpur, Chuadanga, and Jhenaidah. The floods occurred in an area that has not experienced such flooding in more than a century and is more accustomed to drought conditions.

The U.S. Embassy in Dhaka reports that the floods have affected more than three million people or nearly 60% of the total population in the flood-affected districts. The floodwaters also have caused damage to more than 200,000 houses, several roads (including major trade routes to India), and personal property such as household items, food supplies, and livestock. Field assessments by CARE report that the floodwaters have damaged more than 174,000 hectares of rice and subsidiary crops.

The Government of Bangladesh (GOB) has confirmed twenty-two deaths due to the flooding.

Floodwaters have inundated and widely contaminated tube wells, the main source of drinking water in the affected areas.

The GOB Inter-Ministerial Disaster Management Committee initiated search and rescue operations, provided logistical expertise and support to non-governmental organization (NGO) relief operations, and distributed emergency food relief. The GOB also has plans to provide nearly $6 million to establish an emergency fund to assist the agricultural sector, rehabilitate tube wells, and introduce an emergency food program for victims of the floods.


According to the United Nations Disaster Management Team (UNDMT) assessment of October 2, the 14 most affected provinces are Kratie, Kampong Cham, Kampong Chhnang, Prey Veng, Kampot, Kandal, Odor Meanchey, Siem Reap, Takeo, Phnom Penh, Kampong Thom, Rattanakiri, Svay Rieng, and Pursat.

The UNDMT reports that the floods have affected 2.2 million people in 72 districts and 2,044 villages located near the Mekong and Tonle Sap rivers in central and southern Cambodia. This totals 20% of the population of Cambodia.

Media reports estimate that approximately 200,000 people were displaced from their homes and that 252 people have died as a result of the floods.

In addition, the Royal Government of Cambodia reports that the floods destroyed approximately 142,918 hectares of rice and subsidiary crops. Because the floods interrupted the harvest and destroyed much of the standing crops, food shortages exist.

Because the floods damaged some water infrastructure, access to drinking water and water sources remains limited. The UNDMT advises an increased risk of epidemic diseases, since water is receding slowly and creating optimal conditions for waterborne diseases.

The Royal Government of Cambodia is coordinating the relief operation. However, it has requested urgent international assistance to continue the relief efforts and initiate the rehabilitation and reconstruction phases.

Based upon assessments by the International Federation of the Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC), the American Red Cross (ARC) and the Cambodian Red Cross (CRC), IFRC launched an emergency appeal on September 13 for a multi-donor disaster response effort to provide relief to approximately 500,000 beneficiaries for nine months.

The UNDMT has launched an Inter-Agency Appeal for $10,712,754 to provide emergency relief and initial rehabilitation in the provinces devastated by the present floods. The appeal also aims to facilitate the transition to longer-term rehabilitation and reconstruction.


Heavy rainfall in the upper tributary catchments of the Kosi and Bhramaputra rivers caused a preliminary wave of severe flooding in Assam and Bihar provinces in northern India during July and August.

The Government of India (GOI) reports that 3.6 million people from 3,747 villages in 18 districts in the province of Assam were affected by the flooding.

The GOI also reports that total damage to agricultural land was 224,252 hectares in Assam and 268,000 hectares in Bihar.

The UNDP reports 157 people were killed and 6.8 million people were affected due to flooding in thirty-one districts of Bihar. In addition, the floodwaters damaged or destroyed 74,352 houses and interrupted transportation and communication links in many of the districts.

In addition to significant flooding in Assam and Bihar, monsoons in August also led to flooding in the provinces of Andhra Pradesh, Arunachal Pradesh, Gujarat, Himachal Pradesh, Kerala, Madhya Pradesh, Punjab, Uttar Pradesh, West Bengal, and in the city of Hydrabhad.

Heavy monsoons from September 17 - 21, exacerbated by the release of water from swelling dams, caused a subsequent wave of severe flooding throughout eastern India, particularly affecting the province of West Bengal.

Media reports estimate more than 1,200 deaths and 18.5 million people affected in West Bengal due to the floods.

The U.N. Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Assistance (OCHA) reports that more than one million hectares of crops have been destroyed, nearly 1.5 million houses have been damaged, and thousands of heads of livestock lost.

In response to the flooding, the GOI has conducted preliminary assessments of affected areas, established relief camps, and undertook search and rescue operations. The GOI used military assets to distribute medicine, emergency food assistance, and other relief supplies. The Government of West Bengal has dug tube wells, supplied emergency food assistance, potable water, plastic sheeting, Oral Rehydration Salt packets, and other health assistance.


In mid-August, Typhoon Keimi swept through southern Laos resulting in flooding in three districts of Saravanne Province. As Laos was coping with the August rain, Typhoon Wukong hit central and southern Laos in early September, affecting Borikhamky, Khammouane, Savannakhet, Saravanne, and Champasack provinces.

The U.S Embassy in Vientiane reports that the floods have affected more than 1,000 villages and approximately 400,000 people throughout the central and southern regions of Laos. Nine deaths have been reported to date with minimal damage to houses, personal property, and food stocks due to the slow rise of the floodwaters, which allowed for many residents to leave their homes.

However, the World Food Program (WFP) reports that the floodwaters have destroyed about 180,000 MT of rice or more than eight percent of the total rice crop.

Although floodwaters are receding, some stagnant pools remain. The U.S. Embassy also reports that contaminated water is a critical problem and the Ministry of Health has warned that there is an increased risk of waterborne diseases in affected villages.

The Government of Laos has established a national disaster management office (NDMO) supported by CONCERN to respond to the continuing needs of the affected population. The NDMO has met with donors to outline the short- and medium-term needs. The IFRC reports that the WFP is chairing NGO and donor coordination meetings. In addition, the NDMO has collaborated with the Ministry of Health to coordinate health strategies.


The most affected provinces are An Giang, Long An, Dong Thap, Kien Gang, Tien Gang, Vingh Long, and Can Tho. High waters also reached the outskirts of Ho Chi Minh City and Da Nang.

As of October 20, the OCHA reports at least 460 deaths, 5 million people affected, and 670,000 displaced or in urgent need of relocation. According to the UNDP, at least 256 of the deaths were children.

The UNDP also reports that flooding affected approximately 814,000 families; 800,000 houses; 800,000 schools and classrooms; 10,000 kilometers of road; 13,000 bridges; and thousands of handicraft factories. Furthermore, the UNDP reports that the flooding has affected 163,500 hectares rice and subsidiary crops and delayed the planting season for the next crop cycle.

After touring the affected areas, the Government of Vietnam’s (GVN) Permanent Deputy Prime Minister pledged approximately $2.5 million in government assistance to fund relocations, emergency food, and medical care.

U.S. Government Response


On October 4, U. S. Ambassador Mary Ann Peters issued a disaster declaration in response to severe flooding in western Bangladesh. In response, USAID/OFDA provided $25,000 through the U.S. Embassy in Dhaka to CARE in support of a program to provide emergency food assistance and distribute potable water to flood victims.

On October 11, an airlift of USAID/OFDA-funded emergency relief commodities arrived in Dhaka. The airlift included 10 Zodiac boats, 160 rolls of plastic sheeting, two large-capacity water purification units, and 10,000 collapsible five-gallon water jugs. The cost to procure and transport these commodities was approximately $419,120.

USAID/OFDA Regional Advisor visited Bangladesh to consult with USAID/Dhaka staff in early October. USAID/Dhaka staff also conducted assessments of damages and needs. Based on the recommendations of these assessments, USAID/OFDA provided $600,000 through USAID/Dhaka to CARE and World Vision to support emergency food assistance to 70,000 severely affected families.

In addition, two USAID/OFDA water purification units sent to Bangladesh in 1998 and maintained by CARE are being used to provide drinking water to affected populations.


On August 1, U.S. Ambassador Kent M. Wiedemann issued a disaster declaration for flooding in the southern provinces in Cambodia. In response, USAID/OFDA provided $25,000 through the U.S. Embassy to the ARC for the purchase and distribution of emergency household kits.

Continued flooding and deterioration of the humanitarian situation in the northern, eastern, and southern provinces led Ambassador Wiedemann to issue a second disaster declaration on September 5. In response to the second disaster declaration, USAID/OFDA provided $25,000 through the U.S. Embassy to the ARC to meet the immediate needs of flood-affected families.

Additionally, on September 20, in response to an IFRC appeal, USAID/OFDA provided an additional $302,704 to the ARC for the purchase and distribution of emergency household kits.

Following an assessment by USAID/OFDA’s Senior Regional Advisor, USAID/OFDA provided $361,495 through the U.S. Embassy to four PVOs on October 10 to support a fast-yield rice seed intervention to allow farmers to take advantage of receding flood waters.

USAID/FFP plans to provide 2,960 MT of Title II food commodities, valued at $1.3 million, to WFP for distribution to flood affected areas in 18 provinces located along the Mekong River.

Prior to the onset of this disaster, USAID/OFDA has supported disaster preparedness programs to help Cambodia build capacities to manage flood disasters. In 1999, USAID/OFDA began funding a joint ARC, Cambodian Red Cross (CRC), and IFRC disaster preparedness program to develop community-based systems and capacities for responding to disasters. The program will develop CRC’s capacity to successfully implement natural disaster prevention and mitigation strategies at the community level.


On August 21, U.S. Charge d'Affaires Albert Thibault issued a disaster declaration for flooding in India. In response, USAID/OFDA provided an initial $25,000 through USAID/New Delhi to the Prime Minister's National Relief Fund to help meet the immediate needs of those most affected by the floods.

The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) immediately conducted an assessment in Assam, India on August 20 - 22. USAID/OFDA Regional Advisor participated in the ICRC assessment.

In early September, USAID/OFDA also provided $111,600 to the ARC for the purchase and distribution of family packets to 30,000 beneficiaries.

USAID/OFDA also dispatched 160 rolls of plastic sheeting, four water purification units, and 10 Zodiac boats for consignment to the Indian Red Cross. The cost for the purchase and transport of these commodities totaled $177,510. The commodities arrived in India on September 3. After the floodwaters subside, the Zodiac boats and water purification units will remain with the Indian Red Cross for use as part of the response to future flood emergencies.

On September 27, USAID/OFDA provided an additional $25,000 through USAID/New Delhi to the Prime Minister's National Relief Fund to further support national relief efforts.

On October 13, USAID/OFDA provided an additional $500,000 through USAID/Delhi to Catholic Relief Services (CRS) to purchase and distribute food and non-food assistance to the affected population in West Bengal, India. This funding complements grant assistance from the United Kingdom Department for International Development.

In addition to USAID/OFDA assistance, USAID/FFP approved a request by CARE to redirect 2,200 MT of Title II food commodities, valued at $935,000, from its regular government-to-government program to flood victims.


On October 3, U.S. Charge d’Affaires Karen B. Stewart issued a disaster declaration in response to flooding throughout the central and southern regions of Laos. In response, USAID/OFDA provided $25,000 to the U.S. Embassy in support of flood relief efforts in Laos.


On September 15, U.S. Ambassador Douglas B. Peterson issued a disaster declaration for flooding in southeastern Vietnam. USAID/OFDA responded to the disaster declaration by providing $25,000 through the U.S. Embassy in Hanoi to the IFRC to meet the immediate needs of affected families in the Mekong Delta. The IFRC used the USAID/OFDA funds in joint efforts with the Vietnam Red Cross to provide food, shelter materials, cooking utensils, personal hygiene items, and potable water to flood victims.

Following additional flooding, on September 26 USAID/OFDA provided a $216,160 to the IFRC to purchase and distribute 3,500 emergency kits and 3,000 fishing nets to replace lost household assets. The funding will also be used to purchase three motorized boats. The motorized boats will assist the local Red Cross in search and rescue efforts and the delivery of relief supplies.

USAID/OFDA Senior Regional Advisor traveled to Vietnam from October 11-15. Upon his recommendation, USAID/OFDA has scheduled the delivery of 13 Zodiac boats and motors, two water purification units, and 87 rolls of plastic sheeting at a cost of $214,600. The commodities will be consigned to the IFRC. DOD transported the plastic sheeting and water purification units to Ho Chi Minh City on October 18 and 20 at an approximate cost of $200,000. The Zodiac boats will be transported separately by OFDA at a cost of $16,885 and will arrive in Ho Chi Minh City on October 25. A USAID/OFDA Disaster Specialist arrived in Hanoi October 16 to coordinate the receipt and distribution U.S. Government relief assistance.

Prior to the onset of this disaster, USAID/OFDA has supported technical assistance programs to help the GVN build capacities to mitigate and prepare for flood disasters in vulnerable areas of Vietnam. Based on long-term, multi-donor consultations, USAID/ OFDA approved a $994,000 grant to the UNDP in late September 2000 to support a four-year flood mitigation program in Vietnam. The grant will support the implementation of flood alert and early warning systems and flood basin mapping.

U.S. Government Assistance

NOTE: The following table includes all disaster response-related expenditures, but does not include funding for mitigation and preparedness programs in flood affected countries.

Country Agency Partner Sector
Bangladesh USAID/
CARE Emergency food assistance and potable water distribution
CARE 10 Zodiac boats, 160 rolls of plastic, two water purification units, and 10,000 water jugs
CARE & World Vision Emergency food assistance
Cambodia USAID/
ARC Emergency household kits
ARC & IFRC Emergency household kits
IFRC & ARC Emergency household kits & distribution
CARE, World Vision, Partners for Development, and CONCERN Worldwide Provision of fast-yield rice seed and water pumps
WFP 2,960 MT emergency food assistance
India USAID/
Prime Minister’s National Relief Fund Emergency assistance
ARC Emergency household kits
Indian Red Cross 10 Zodiac Boats, 160 rolls of plastic sheeting, and 4 water purification units
Prime Minister’s National Relief Fund Emergency assistance
CRS Emergency food and non-food assistance
CARE 2,200 MT emergency food assistance
U.S. Embassy Dhaka Mission allowance for emergency assistance
Vietnam USAID/
IFRC Emergency relief
IFRC Emergency food, shelter materials, water/sanitation, and health
IFRC 3,500 emergency household kits, 3,000 fishing nets, and three motorized boats
IFRC 13 Zodiac boats, two water purification units, and 87 rolls of plastic sheeting
DOD IFRC Transport of commodities
TOTAL USG $5,555,074

*This figure includes $25,000 provided by USAID/OFDA on August 4, 2000 in response to a separate, cyclone-related flood disaster in central Vietnam.