China

China: Floods Appeal No. 05EA017 Operations Update No. 4

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Situation Report
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In Brief

Appeal No. 05E A017; Operations Update no. 4; Period covered: 20 November 2005- 15 February 2006; Appeal coverage: 39.4% (click here for the attached contributions list)

Appeal history:

- Launched on 11 August 2005 for CHF 5,501,604 (USD 4,274,751 or EUR 2,525,539) for 9 months to assist 400,000 beneficiaries.

- Information bulletin 1 to 7 issued prior to appeal launch.

- Disaster Relief Emergency Funds (DREF) allocated: CHF 200,000

Outstanding needs : CHF 3,333,972 (USD 2,546,358 or EUR 2,136,080)

Related Emergency or Annual Appeals: 2006-2007 China Appeal MAACN001, 2006-2007 East Asia Appeal MAA54001

Operational Summary:

There have been a total of 1,660 deaths related to floods in 2005, according to news sources quoting the state flood control and drought relief headquarters. As many as 31 provinces, autonomous regions and municipalities suffered from varying degrees of floods, and a reported 200 million people were affected. In December 2005, the Red Cross Society of China (RCSC) provincial, prefecture and county branches carried out a second distribution of 750 MT of rice to flood-affected families in the five provinces of Anhui, Guangxi, Hunan, Jiangxi and Sichuan. This followed the initial distribution of 1,500 MT rice to some 100,000 people in October 2005, bringing the operational total for rice distributed to 2,250 MT.

At the start of the spring festival, which was celebrated from 27 January to 12 February 2006, 16,330 flood-affected families in Anhui and Jiangxi provinces received quilts donated by the Danish Red Cross. For those who have lost everything and are now confronted with the challenge of rebuilding their lives amidst taxing conditions, even the smallest gestures of kindness are magnified. At a quilt distribution in Ruichang county in particular, it has been reported that beneficiaries are highly appreciative of the relief goods received.

Background

In the past few years China has experienced increasingly longer flood seasons, with the traditional May to August season extend ing into the autumn months. There have been a total of 1,660 deaths related to floods in 2005, according to news sources quoting the state flood control and drought relief headquarters. As many as 31 provinces, autonomous regions and municipalities suffered from varying degrees of floods, and a reported 200 million people were affected. Indeed, on top of economic challenges already faced by the rural population, disasters such as these floods manage to continuously erode their coping mechanisms.

Living conditions in China's impoverished rural south pose numerous challenges to the human spirit. Life revolves around manual field work with little or no access to common recreational facilities that so many in the world have come to take for granted. Although it is the norm for lower-income households in developed countries to include features such as heating in winter , electricity, running water or a phone line, these basics are unobtainable luxuries for the majority of rural farmers in China's poorest provinces such as Guangxi, Sichuan, Anhui and Jiangxi which, according to UNDP's 2005 Human Development Index for China, all fell in the bottom third of the country in terms of development.

Every day, an increasing number of rural poor are migrating to China's cities with the dream of creating a better life for their families. For millions, the journey begins at the county-level bus stops , where the men wait with their belongings bundled in grain sacks or plastic bags under the cloudy southern winter skies, hoping to find some form of manual labour when they arrive in the cities.

During a joint field visit to Anhui and Jiangxi in the second week of February by delegates from the Federation and staff of the respective RCSC provincial and county-level branches, it could be seen that a majority of the beneficiaries were living the same story. Household after household reported one or more family members having left for China's more prosperous cities to earn enough money to support the family following the loss of crops and/or homes to floods and other natural disasters.

The period 27 January through 12 February marked this year's spring festival and the start of the lunar new year. For centuries , the spring festival has traditionally been a time for family gatherings , during which the usually boisterous country slows down. However, with money tight for many of the families affected by floods in 2005, the year of the dog began with an empty space at the family table.

For further information specifically related to this operation please contact:

In China: Mr. Wang Xiaohua, director of external relations department, Red Cross Society of China, Beijing; email: rcsc@chineseredcross.org; phone: +86.10.6404.8366, fax +86.10.6402.9928.

In China: Mr. Alistair Henley, head of East Asia regional delegation, Beijing, email: alistair.henley@ifrc.org ; phone: +86.10.65327162, fax: +86.10.65327166.

In Geneva: Asia and Pacific department, Ms. Ewa Eriksson, East Asia regional officer, email: ewa.eriksson@ifrc.org; phone: +41227304252; fax: +41.22. 7330395

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