Bangladesh + 3 more

South Asia: Floods Preparedness - Information Bulletin n° 1

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Situation Report
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The Federation's mission is to improve the lives of vulnerable people by mobilizing the power of humanity. It is the world's largest humanitarian organization and its millions of volunteers are active in over 183 countries.
In Brief

This Bulletin (no. 01/2006) is being issued for information only, and reflects the situation and the information available at this time. The Federation is not seeking funding or other assistance from donors for this operation at this time.

Donors wishing to contribute to the ongoing efforts are welcome to consult the disaster management sections in the following regional and/or national appeals for 2006-2007: South Asia (MAA52001), Afghanistan (MAAAF001), Bangladesh (MAABD001), India (MAAIN001), Nepal (MAANP001), and the ongoing tsunami appeals for Sri Lanka (Appeal 28/04) and the Pakistan earthquake appeal (05EA022).

The International Federation undertakes activities that are aligned with its Global Agenda, which sets out four broad goals to achieve the Federation's mission to "improve the lives of vulnerable people by mobilizing the power of humanity". The Global Agenda Goals are:

- Reduce the numbers of deaths, injuries and impact from disasters.

- Reduce the number of deaths, illnesses and impact from diseases and public health emergencies.

- Increase local community, civil society and Red Cross Red Crescent capacity to address the most urgent situations of vulnerability.

- Reduce intolerance, discrimination and social exclusion and promote respect for diversity and human dignity.

The Situation

Every year the monsoon season brings about major flooding in parts of South Asia (see map on last page). Heavy rainfall and a rise in temperatures causing melting of snow in the Himalayas result in the rapid and massive rise of water levels in large rivers like the Indus, Ganges and Brahmaputra, and their tributaries. As a result, the planes of Bangladesh and Nepal, north-eastern states of India, as well as parts of Pakistan get flooded almost every year between July and September. Global climate change has potentially serious consequences for this situation and it is suspected that over the coming years the combination of increased glacial melt and increased monsoon intensity will add to the devastation caused by floods during the monsoon season. Flooding has numerous adverse effects, including loss of life through drowning, increased prevalence of disease and destruction of property, crops and resources to sustain livelihoods.

The year 2005 saw flooding across the region, affecting over 22 million people, leaving more than 3,400 people dead, 1,100 people injured and another 450,000 people displaced. The South Asian national societies provided assistance to hundreds of thousands of affected people. The International Federation launched emergency appeals seeking over CHF 2.2 million and used another CHF 300,000 out of its disaster relief emergency fund (DREF).

This year, the monsoon that touched the southern coast of India one week early, on 26 May, has triggered moderate rainfall across the country and heavy to very heavy rainfall at a few places leading to floods. Eight states are facing flood-like situations that have resulted in the death of 140 people so far. The states of Assam, Arunachal Pradesh, Mahrashtra and Kerala have been severely affected. Floods triggered by heavy rains in Assam have displaced 25,000 people and snapped road and rail communications.

In Nepal too, early monsoon is expected this year and rains have already started. The meteorological department has forecasted the possibility of more rain and there is a likelihood of big disasters such as floods and landslides. Warming trends have already had significant impact in the Nepal Himalayas, most significantly in terms of glacier retreat and significant increases in the size and volume of glacial lakes, making them more prone to glacial lake outburst flooding.

Late April this year saw the northern region of Afghanistan affected by floods caused by the melting of snow. In Pakistan, however, the meteorological department forecasts that this season's monsoon will be 'normal' based on the indication that most of the month of May remained dry and that the temperature level this year has been significantly higher than normal.

In Bangladesh, by 1 June the Flood Forecast Warning Centre has so far not issued any flood warning messages. All the rivers in the basins are at present flowing below their respective danger levels, except for three rivers in the Meghna basin, which are all registering rising trends. Similarly, rainfall data of the Sri Lankan meteorological department suggests that severe floods should not be expected in the country this year.

With the recent climatic changes in the region and atmospheric changes world over, it is hard to forecast the extent of monsoon rainfall and flooding with hundred per cent accuracy.

For further information specifically related to this operation please contact:

Federation regional delegation in India: Bob McKerrow (head of regional delegation); email: bob.mckerrow@ifrc.org; Phone: +91.11.2411.1125; Fax: +91.11.2411.1128

Federation Secretariat in Geneva: Jagan Chapagain (regional officer, Asia Pacific department); email: jagan.chapagain@ifrc.org; Phone: +41.22.730.4316; Fax: +41.22.733.0395 or

Nelly Khrabraya (senior assistant, Asia Pacific department); email: nelly.khrabraya@ifrc.org; Phone: +41.22.730.4306; Fax: +41.22.733.0395

All International Federation assistance seeks to adhere to the Code of Conduct for the International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement and Non-Governmental Organizations (NGO's) in Disaster Relief and is committed to the Humanitarian Charter and Minimum Standards in Disaster Response (Sphere) in delivering assistance to the most vulnerable.

For longer-term programmes in this or other countries or regions, please refer to the Federation's Annual Appeal. For support to or for further information concerning Federation programmes or operations in this or other countries, or for national society profiles, please also access the Federation's website at http://www.ifrc.org

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