The recent flooding in Mumbai has not only claimed lives it has also destroyed thousands of peoples' livelihoods according to an initial assessment by Oxfam staff on the ground.
Although the city of Mumbai is the worst affected area, surrounding rural areas have also been severely hit. Tens of thousands of acres of agricultural land have been flooded with the entire coastal belt temporarily underwater. The area flooded is a major rice producing region known as 'the rice bowl of the state'. Those farming the area are almost all poor farming families owning small plots of land of between 2 and 5 acres.
"The rice bowl of the state is farmed by poor farming families. This flood has washed away one harvest but the debris and the damage done to the soil could impact on future harvests too. The rebuilding of livelihoods must be an urgent priority if we are to avoid an increase in poverty and possible food shortages for the families affected," said Aditi Kapoor, an Oxfam aid worker.
The flooding came at the worst possible time as the planting of the paddy fields had just been completed. The floodwater has cost an entire harvest for the farmers affected but the floods have also destroyed farming infrastructure and left the soil covered in silt washed down from the surrounding mountains.
"A major reconstruction effort will be needed to get the area back to being the rice bowl of the state, and this has to start now," added Kapoor.
Oxfam staff are continuing their assessments in the area and will start implementing an action plan by next week. More Oxfam staff are currently on their way to the region.
For interviews or information please call:
India: Aditi Kapoor- +
UK: Brendan Cox + 44 7957 120 853