Floods in Georgia: situation update 05 Jul 2005

Thousands of people have been affected by floods sweeping across Georgia. The floods, caused by a combination of torrential rains and melting snow, first started at the end of April and there is no sign they are over. They continue to have a devastating impact on people's lives.

The exact number of people affected by the floods is unknown, but massive landslides and mudflows have led to the damage and loss of homes, agricultural land, water drainage systems have been destroyed and rivers and bridges swept away, isolating many communities in mountainous areas.

According to World Food Programme figures, the homes and land of more than 9,000 people have been affected in eight geographical regions. A total of 5,569 people will require food aid in the next two months in Racha-Lechkhumi, in the north.

Local government officials say several lives have already been lost, the most recent deaths taking place in a wave of heavy rains in North East Georgia, in Dusheti, when the Aragvi river burst its banks on 16 June.

The Government of Georgia has asked for assistance from international organisations as it tries to assess the full scale of the emergency.

An Oxfam team has completed a preliminary assessment (11 June) and found that the spread of water-borne diseases remains a major concern in areas where drinking water systems have been destroyed.

The drinking water supply in many towns and villages has been damaged affecting around 3,600 people. Pipelines and reservoirs have been destroyed, resulting in contamination and this has led to the outbreak of high-levels of e-coli in certain regions.

There are no signs of malnutrition although there is a concern that the absence of clean drinking water will lead to outbreaks of diarrhoea and respiratory disease.

Farmers have not been able to plant potatoes, maize and beans during the spring agricultural season because land has been covered with soil and stone debris. An unknown number of pigs and poultry have been washed away in the flood.

Oxfam's response

An Oxfam assessment team visited the Khulo District, in the Adjara region of West Georgia in order to assess demands of water supply system.

Following the assessment, Oxfam will begin working with the Georgian Red Cross Society on the rehabilitation of water systems and on health promotion in one of the affected regions Khulo District.

We aim to address the water and sanitation needs of more than 6,000 people affected by the floods. Working in collaboration with the district council, and with the time and labour of the local community, we will

  • reconstruct the main reservoir for water storage,
  • build two further reservoirs,
  • reconstruct water pipelines,
  • carry out public health education.

For media enquiries, please call Zahra Akkerhuys, Regional Media Co-ordinator, on +44 1865 313152.