Millions of Chinese flood victims caught in poverty trap

News and Press Release
Originally published
Beijing-Geneva, 24 August 1999 - The most severely affected victims of this year's disaster have experienced flooding three to five years in a row, and have ended up in a poverty trap", says Dr Stefan Seebacher, leader of an assessment team from the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies, in China.
Although this year's flooding is thought to be less severe than last year's, it has left nearly 800 people dead and again forced the evacuation of 5.5 million others threatening the livelihood and health of more than 100 million people. Water levels rose up to 8 metres earlier this month and still remain 4 to 5 metres high, leaving more than one million people homeless and millions of hectares of farmland under water. This has resulted in the loss of both rice crops this year in many areas, robbing farmers yet again of their income base.

Millions of people living in the Chinese provinces of Hubai, Hunan, Anhui and Jiangxi, remain in dire need of food, clean water and sanitation material, as the Yangtze river has once again overflowed its bank due to heavy rains, according to findings by a joint Federation and Chinese Red Cross assessment team, monitoring the situation last week.

The findings of the assessment teams have prompted the Interna tional Federation to step up its assistance by seeking 10.2 million Swiss francs ($US 7 million) in a revised appeal - meeting the needs of millions of people, and further reinforce its support to the Red Cross Society of China, which responded immediately to the initial emergency. Food assistance will be provided for three months to whole communities worst hit by the disaster.

The International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies will also ensure over one million people have access to clean water in order to prevent outbreaks of epidemics, and will furthermore provide sanitation materials to treat pools of stagnant polluted water, which are common breeding grounds for water-borne diseases.

For further information, please contact :

In Beijing:
im Robertson, Federation representative
Tel: +86 10 6523 1704; mobile: +86 136 105 0424

Solveig Olafsdottir, information delegate
Tel: +86 10 6559 9552; mobile: +86 138 136 5947

In Geneva:
Wivina Belmonte, information officer
Tel: +41 22 730 4480

© 1999 International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies