ACT Appeal Update India 1/2003 - Orissa Floods - ASIN34

Originally published
Geneva, 30 September 2003
Present status of Appeal

ASIN34 comprising emergency relief proposals for the most vulnerable flood affected in Orissa was issued on 12 September 2003. To date, of the US$ 1,098,997 target, only US$ 154,024 (14%) has been received - Churches Auxiliary for Social Action (CASA) has received 94% funding while the United Evangelical Church of India (UELCI) and the Lutheran World Service India (LWS-I) only 4 % and 5% respectively. The low funding received to date for the UELCI and LWS-I projects is seriously hampering the timeliness and effectiveness of even the most immediate relief response.

We urgently request our donors to reconsider and allocate funding towards this appeal.

Situation Report from LWS-I

ACT member the Lutheran World Service India (LWS-I) reports that in the district of Balangir people cannot recall rains of such magnitude for at least 20 years. This year's rains have been exceptionally heavy - with up to 316 mm in six hours recorded. Totally unprepared for such a deluge the people have suffered tremendous loss of property as well as crops. There has been a recorded loss of up to 80% of Gurji , a traditional crop grown in the highlands with the remaining 20% reportedly of very low quality due to it being rain-soaked. Vegetables and early varieties of highland paddy also fell victim to the flood waters and a significant area of cultivated land has been sand casted. Fruit saplings and other delicate plants were also affected. Most of the mud-built houses collapsed as they could not withstand the incessant rainfall and road communication between villages/towns has been seriously disrupted.

In the most recent years the resource poor/marginal farmers have experienced drought and have been forced to "loan" paddy from Self Help Group (SHG) run grain banks or from other sources for use as seeds as they had been compelled to eat up the preceding year's sock of seeds. The drought conditions in 2002 led to almost a total crop failure resulting in the marginalised farmers even becoming indebted to the private moneylenders (due to crop failure the recovery of grains in SHG-managed grain banks was very insignificant). The normal level of recovery and recycling of group/community funds and grain banks are affected in general.

The unprecedented deluge has further exacerbated the situation, pushing the most vulnerable of the population to a very precarious situation. Unlike the coastal belt, where flooding is both a boon and a bane for the farmers as they benefit from the depositing of fertile soils in the following years, flooding in this area takes away the vital top soils which adversely affects the yield in the following years. Moreover, this year, due to good, though delayed showers, most of the farmers did not take the precaution of insuring their crops. As the rain continued for an unusually long period the standing paddy crop became weak succumbing to pests and insects. Fish in the fish ponds were swept away in the outflow of excess water. Embankments of most water storage ponds (some of these were constructed using LWSI drought relief under ASIN 24) were breached and ridges protecting cultivated land were washed away resulting in the loss of precious water and top soils for future cultivation.

Now the vulnerable marginal farmers have no resources and the main concern for them is how to survive until the harvesting of the remaining main kharif crop. Labour migration is one option that is taken by many during difficult times.

Overview of damage in Balangir District

Areas affected
LWSI RDP operational area
No.of blocks affected
No.of G.Ps affected
No.of villages affected
117 (271 communities)
Population affected
4.6 lacs
No.of human life lost
No.of cattle
No.of houses damaged
Fully collapsed
Partly collapsed
Crop area affected
Paddy-33374 ha.
Non-paddy-2905 ha.
Paddy - 771 Ac.
Non-paddy-1760 Ac.
No. and location of breached reported
386 (51 major roads & 335 smaller G.P & village roads)
No.of roads cut-off
No.of roads restored
No.of people evacuated
No.of free kitchen running
Agricultural land Sandcasted
763 acre
Pisciculture affected
7 tanks (22 Ac)
Embankment of WHS washed out
54 nos.
Social forestry & orchard affected
6200 plants in social forestry & 420 saplings in orchard.

Since Orissa is one of the operational states for LWS Community Based Disaster Preparedness and Development projects, LWSI was on the spot to initiate rapid relief operations in three districts covering 10,000 of the worst affected families. The flood waters have started to recede and the more vulnerable of the affected families urgently need rehabilitation assistance.

Thank you for your attention.

For further information please contact:

ACT Director, Thor-Arne Prois (phone ++41 22 791 6033 or mobile phone ++ 41 79 203 6055) or
ACT Appeals Officer, Mieke Weeda (phone ++ 41 22 791 6035 or mobile phone ++ 41 79 285 2916)

ACT is a worldwide network of churches and related agencies meeting human need through coordinated emergency response.

The ACT Coordinating Office is based with the World Council of Churches (WCC) and the Lutheran World Federation (LWF) in Switzerland.