India

India: Monsoon floods Appeal No. 24/2002 Interim Final Report

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This Interim Final Report is intended for reporting on emergency appeals
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Appeal No. 24/2002; Launched on: 14 August 2002 for 6 months for CHF 2,934,000 to assist 200 000 beneficiaries.

Disaster Relief Emergency Fund (DREF) Allocated: CHF 180,000

Period covered: 14 August 2002 - 31 March 2003 (Interim Final Report); The IRCS and the Federation are unable to issue a Final Report at this time because: 1) the IRCS and the Federation are awaiting finalisation of a pending grant from USAID; and, 2) the IRCS is in the final stages of clearing its working advance. A final report will be issued shortly once these two matters are resolved.

IN BRIEF

Appeal coverage: 67.7%

Related Appeals: India: Annual Appeal no. 01.54/2003

The Indian Red Cross Society (IRCS) and its branches in affected areas in Assam and Bihar were among the first to respond to the floods, providing relief materials to the affected population. Resources raised through the Federation's Emergency Appeal (24/2002) were used to provide much needed assistance in the form of shelter, food, non-food and hygiene items, and health services to 200,000 beneficiaries.

With all of the operation's activities having come to an end, there remains an outstanding balance of CHF 129,914. The current plan is to apply these funds towards IRCS activities for 2003. Donors wishing to express their views on the matter have until 6 August to contact the Desk officer in Geneva.

Summary

Nearly 20 million people in the north and eastern states of India were affected by extensive flooding due to heavy monsoon rains in the region. The highly flood-prone states of Assam and Bihar were most affected by what was the worst flooding in 25 years. Millions of people were living in scant conditions in makeshift shelters located on river embankments, roadways or any high ground.

The Indian Red Cross Society (IRCS) and its branches in the affected areas were among the first to respond to the floods, providing relief materials to the affected population. Resources raised through the Federation's Emergency Appeal (24/2002) were used to provide much needed assistance in the form of shelter, food, non-food and hygiene items, and health services to 200,000 beneficiaries (30, 000 families and people receiving health services) for a period of six months.

The IRCS immediately responded to the crisis through its local branches and volunteers who worked closely with the authorities to provide rescue and relief items to the affected communities. CHF 180,000 was immediately released from the Federation`s Disaster Relief Emergency Fund (DREF) to initiate IRCS relief activities. In early August 2002, the Federation launched the Emergency Appeal to support the IRCS with providing emergency assistance to 200,000 people for a period of six months. In addition IRCS branches in several districts raised funds locally from the onset of the floods.

IRCS volunteers in Bihar distributed around 90 metric tonnes of food items including ready made food in all 11 affected districts. The state branch also provided 60 boats and one water purification unit. Several IRCS branches took the initiative to set up medical posts for emergency treatment for flood victims.

Trained volunteers from district IRCS branches in Assam set up a comprehensive first aid and community health training programme under the disaster preparedness programme. Disaster preparedness staff at the state IRCS and district headquarters were involved in assessing the needs in camps and shelters, planning and the distribution of relief material.

Coordination

The Federation's India Operations Centre (IOC) worked closely with the IRCS to monitor the situation. The Federation provided IRCS with technical advice and support to initiate the relief operation. A disaster response task force of IRCS and Federation staff was established to closely monitor the situation with the national disaster management control room (UNDP) and other NGOs. Good coordination was established with the government authorities such as the health department, relief commissioners and deputy commissioners at different levels during the assessment and initial operational response. Regular situation reports were shared with the authorities and UN organisations.

A Federation Relief Delegate arrived in early October 2002 to oversee the procurement and distribution of relief goods in Bihar, together with officials from the Indian Red Cross national headquarters and state branch. The operation was also carried out in close cooperation with the bilateral PNS delegates in the field. One member of the IRCS staff was designated as a field coordinator, who provided advice and support to the district and state branches. As per Federation terms, the relief operations in Bangladesh, India and Nepal were coordinated by the Federation's Asia & Pacific Department and its South Asia Regional Delegation (SARD), with the support of the Federation's Disaster Management and Coordination Division.

Objectives, activities and results

Operational Goal: To meet the urgent needs of 30,000 displaced families in the affected communities for food, shelter, family packs, and medical services. To ensure improved quality of water, and to prepare for longer-term needs through necessary capacity building and disaster mitigation initiatives over a period of six months.

The first phase of the operation included immediate deployment of six mobile medical teams, one NEHK (New Emergency Health Kit), one cholera kit and 200,000 water purification tablets from the IRCS warehouse to the worst affected areas in Bihar and Assam. The food and non-food items were procured in Delhi and Patna. Beneficiaries were selected from among the most vulnerable section of the population. Identification of beneficiaries was done in collaboration with the local authorities to avoid duplication of efforts, and in accordance with the following selection criteria:

  • Families who lost everything during the floods.
  • Families who were living below the poverty line.
  • Families headed by women.
  • Families with members rendered incapable of work due to serious illness or old age.

It should be noted that the local IRCS branches used this criteria for identifying beneficiaries when carrying out their initial relief activities.

Health and care

Objective 1: 30,000 flood affected families receive hygiene kits over a period of three months. Each hygiene kit consists of 1 towel, 1 washing soap and 1 toilet soap.

Beneficiaries were selected from the most affected districts with the highest frequency of malaria and diarrhoea. Also taken into consideration was access to an IRCS health facility. One emergency kit (consisting of 23 separate emergency health items) and one cholera kit (containing 12 separate components) were sent from the IRCS central warehouse in Delhi to Bihar. The American Red Cross also donated two WHO New Emergency Health Kits (NEHK), and two WHO Cholera Kits, with the aim to improve the response capacity of two primary health care centres staffed by IRCS personnel in Bihar. An estimated 22,000 persons benefited from these activities.

The main activities planned to achieve this objective were as follows:

  • Identify the most vulnerable beneficiaries.
  • Local procurement and packing of the relief items.
  • Dispatch and transport of the relief items.
  • Assist IRCS with improving its procurement practices.
  • Management of warehouses and distribution structure with technical support from the national headquarters and the Federation.
  • Distribute relief items with the help of trained IRCS volunteers to identified beneficiaries.
  • Ongoing reporting and monitoring of the distribution.
  • Assisting with building the capacity of IRCS national headquarters and the district branches during and after the operation.


Objective 2: 100,000 beneficiaries to receive basic health care through six mobile medical units (MMUs) or Red Cross health posts over a period of three months.

During the initial stage of the flood operation, the IRCS Assam state branch deployed one medical unit in Kamrup district to support the health needs of the affected population. Immediately after the release of the DREF, five additional MMUs were dispatched from the campus of Guwahati Medical College on August 2002.

IRCS MMUs provided free health and medical services to a total of 59,000 patients from 23 August to 23 November 2002. Each MMU treated a minimum of 150 patients per day. MMUs were deployed and functional in the districts of Dhubri, Nalbari, Goalpara, Kamrup, Morigaon and Dhemaji over a period of three months. Each of the six MMUs was staffed with a medical doctor, a pharmacist, two nurses, two IRCS volunteers and one assistant. Despite difficult road conditions in remote areas, and inconvenient boat service, 338 medical and health check up camps were set up by the MMUs.

There were no reports of communicable diseases or referral of patients suffering from serious diseases was received throughout the operation. Besides medical and health services and the distribution of free medicine by the MMUs, IRCS volunteers also conducted community awareness activities in regard to water, sanitation and hygiene. Advice was also given to communities on the utilisation of local resources for safe and healthy living.

The activities planned to achieve these objectives were:

  • Identifying the most affected districts for placing MMUs.
  • Procurement of all the necessary equipment and medicines as per the standard list.
  • Alerting and recruiting medical teams, each consisting of 1 medical doctor, 1 pharmacist, 2 nurses, 2 volunteers and 1 assistant.
  • Deploying one boat and five vehicles with the medical teams.
  • Dispatching the content of two WHO cholera kits to districts with the highest caseload of diarrhoeal cases, along with sending the basic units of two new emergency health kits (NEHK) to selected IRCS primary health care centres (PHC), for basic health care,
  • Keeping necessary records and following up cases, conducting health awareness activities among the patients.


Water and Sanitation

Objective 1: 30,000 selected households to have improved quality of water over a period of one month.

The IRCS dispatched two million water purification tablets in August 2002 from the warehouses in Delhi and Bihar to the districts of Darbhanga, Samastipur, Madhubani, Sitamarhi, Khagaria, Muzzaffarpur, Sheohar, Siwan, Gopalganj, Katihar and Purnea..

20,000 families were identified and given 100 water tablets per household. The Families were educated about the use of the tablets by trained IRCS volunteers.

Objective 2: 300 previously submerged water pumps or wells to be disinfected and the outbreak of water borne diseases prevented.

According to the Appeal's original plan of action, American Red Cross funding was earmarked for flood mitigation infrastructure and water/sanitation activities in both Assam and Bihar states. The plan was to apply these funds for constructing flood platforms (with raised tube wells and toilet blocks) and disinfecting 300 contaminated wells.

Mitigation activities were successfully carried out in Bihar. IRCS provided 30 hand tubewells in Bihar (20 in Muzaffarpur and 10 in Samastipur.) The local IRCS branches were given the responsibility to choose the locations for these wells. The main criteria for selecting sites was the non-availability of sources of drinking water. The wells were constructed according to SPHERE standards assuring the safety of potable drinking water.

It was not only important to dig the wells, but also to train and educate the public about maintaining the tube wells. This training took place at seven "awareness camps" at the tubewell sites. All the beneficiaries were encouraged to attend these camps. They were trained on the aspects of maintaining the tube wells during normal and flood times. They were also made aware of the dangers of using unsafe water and associated water borne diseases.

Towards the end of the operation, however, IRCS headquarters did not feel the need to carry out mitigation activities in Assam, and requested that the Federation and the American Red Cross redirect the mitigation funds towards the drought operation in the Rajastan state.

The procurement of bleaching powder did not occur for to two reasons. Firstly, although needed immediately after the floods, too much time elapsed. Secondly, the Bihar state branch did not have adequate storage space. Therefore, it was decided not to procure bleaching powder and more family kits were procured instead.

Relief distribution of food and basic non-food items

Objective 1: 30,000 flood affected families to receive basic food items and family kits over a period of three months.

Procurement of food and non-food items for 20,000 families in Bihar began in September 2002. The items were purchased in Delhi and Patna, and payments were made in Delhi. The materials were packed and distributed by IRCS state branch volunteers. Each selected family received food commodities such as: 20 kg chura (broken rice), 5 kg dal (lentils), 1 kg salt, and family kits each consisting of 1 dhoti, 2 sarees, 1 cotton blanket, 1 bed sheet, 1 set of cooking utensils, 6 candles, 2 boxes of matches, two mosquito nets, 1 towel, two soaps, 1 HDPE bag (High Density Polythene bag for packing).

In August 2002, the Assam branch first released pre-positioned disaster preparedness stock for 10,000 families from the Guwahati warehouse in August 2002. 4,000 family packs, each consisting of one general purpose plastic sheet, one set of cooking utensils, 3.5 kg of BP5 (high protein biscuits) and two blankets, were distributed by IRCS district branches. 34,000 families were targeted and the distribution took place in a number of districts during the month of September 2002.

The tender process for the procurement of items including food, hygiene kits and general purpose plastic sheeting for 10,000 families was made in September 2002 in Patna and Delhi. Using the same tender review process in Patna, the American Red Cross bilaterally supported the IRCS relief operation by providing aid to 2,900 families (14,500 persons) in Khagaria, Siwan and Sheohar districts in Bihar. Each family was presented with a family kit of the 16 items specified under the Indian Red Cross plan. Soyabean was not distributed as initially planned due to failure on the part of the supplier.

The IRCS Bihar State branch prepared a plan for distributing these relief materials to flood affected families as depicted in the table shown below. In Assam, 9,800 out of the 10,000 family packs pre positioned in Guwahati warehouse reached the targeted districts depicted in the table below on time. Each family pack consisted of one general-purpose plastic sheet, 3.5 kg BP5, blankets and one cooking set.

Districts in Assam
No. of families
Districts in Bihar
No. of Families
Dhemaji
1'000
Darbhanga
4'500
Dhaukaukahana
500
Madhubani
5'000
Mariagaon
1'000
Samastipur
4'500
Dhubri
900
Patna & Hajipur
500
Bilasipara
400
Muzzafarpur
2'500
Nalbari
1'300
Sheohar
1'000
Golpara
800
Siwan
700
Kamrup
1'200
Khagaria
1'300
Majuli
1'000
Mangaldoi
400
Dhansiri
500
Karimganj
500
Sonitpur
300
Gohpur
200
TOTAL
10'000
TOTAL
20'000

Since the suppliers of some items failed to meet the delivery schedule, the packing process was delayed.

Once the items for the family kits were all in place, including the donations of in kind and buffer stock from other IRCS sources, a distribution plan including 2,900 bilaterally funded kits was drawn up by the IRCS Bihar state branch. 20,000 beneficiaries were selected. Land labourers working as daily wage earners on agricultural land who had lost their homes and means of livelihood came within the preferential category for selection. The beneficiary lists also included the destitute elderly, sick and handicapped, and families headed by separated, divorced or widowed women with no source of income. The Red Cross district branch committee, volunteers and district administration were involved in the selection process. Co-ordination was maintained with other agencies to avoid duplication of beneficiaries. Since the relief operation began, the Indian Red Cross local branches distributed 210.75 metric tonnes of ready made food to 106,677 beneficiaries, 30,000 assorted clothes to 18,000 beneficiaries and 5,000 metres of cloth sheeting to 2,000 beneficiaries.

Distributions were carried out under the supervision of the state branch. Beneficiaries were informed to have two family members to meet at the distribution points due to the size of the family pack. Two trucks (4 MT and 9 MT) from Delhi and one (9 MT) from Kolkata were despatched to Patna to support the distribution. One 9 MT truck could carry 200 food bags or 400 non-food bags. Private trucks were also used when necessary to transport goods in larger amounts or when the roads were in poor condition. By the end of January, 18,000 packs had been distributed in seven districts.

During December 2002, along with the tendering for the rest of the countrywide disaster preparedness programme, a purchase order was made to replenish the buffer stocks at the IRCS warehouses in Delhi, Guwahati and Kolkata. Based on the available financial resources, these included the procurement of 1,000 ground sheet rolls, 23,120 cooking utensils, 30,500 mosquito nets, 13,120 plastic buckets, 16,120 bed sheets, 14,120 cotton blankets, 16,120 dhotis and 16,120 sarees. 250 life vests with the Red Cross logo were also purchased, out of which 50 were sent to Bihar and 100 to Delhi and Kolkata respectively. A local tender was made in Patna for the procurement of 500 quilts for the elderly, as part of the appeal. For practical reasons, 546 cotton blankets instead of quilts were procured and distributed.

Shelter

Objective 1: 30,000 flood affected families to receive shelter materials within one to three months.

The IRCS distributed all purpose plastic sheets (5X4 m each) as temporary shelter material to 30,000 families (approximately 150,000) in the 16 most affected districts in Assam and Bihar.

10,000 plastic sheets were immediately purchased for the affected families. In the first lot, 9,500 all purpose plastic sheets were distributed along with 150 tents and 50 rolls of polythene sheets. When one of the suppliers for plastic sheeting failed to meet the order, the purchase committee went for the next highest bidder. The purchase committee consisted of one representative from the IRCS and one from the Federation. As a contingency measure, and to expedite the relief operation, the IRCS dispatched 300 rolls (for 3,000 families) of polythene sheets. 150 plastic rolls (15,000 pieces) and 3,500 pieces of plastic sheeting donated by the Danish government through the Danish Red Cross also arrived in Patna in the first lot. The IRCS state branch managed to get the warehouse at no cost.

In Assam, the distribution of 9,800 pre-positioned family packs, which commenced in September, including general purpose plastic sheets, was completed by October 2002. The major activities undertaken during the operation in order to reach the expected goal were:

  • Procure and pack shelter material,
  • Transport and distribute relief items to the final destination with the help of trained Indian Red Cross volunteers,
  • Assist the Indian Red Cross to improve its procurement practices,
  • Management of warehouses and distribution structure with technical support from the national headquarters and the Federation,
  • Monitoring, reporting and technical advice by the national headquarters and district branches during and after the operation.


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