India: Oxfam responds to serious flood damage in Gujarat

Heavy and incessant rainfall amounting to 60 per cent of the annual total has created flooding on a massive scale across Gujarat. 70 per cent of the State and 20 million people are thought to be affected.
All the major rivers of the state are flowing near or above the danger mark. The release of large quantities of water from all the major and minor dams has resulted in submergence of homes both in rural and urban areas.

10,000 villages have been partially or fully cut off, and an estimated 525,000 people have already been evacuated to safer places in the state. 236 State Highways are damaged due to the floods, of which 175 remain closed.

With heavy rains continuing, the situation on the ground is likely to become even more grim.

Conditions on the ground

Although no major health problems have been reported as yet, it is feared that debris and carcasses of animals, and contamination of water supplies by flood water, may cause outbreaks of diseases.

The Government is providing water to people in temporary shelters but as people start going back to their homes they will start drinking water from their existing sources.

The Government plans to supply tankered water and chlorine tablets. There is an immediate need for food rations to tide people over for the next few days.

Limited accessibility to the affected areas means that housing damage cannot be accurately assessed yet. As water begins to recede people returning to their villages will try to make temporary shelters, which may be inadequate given their limited resources and the trauma they have faced. Therefore, speedy external support will need to be provided.

NGO support called for

The Government has asked for support from NGOs to help distribute food packets, water and other essential items. Oxfam's expertise in public health, water and sanitation and food and nutrition is uniquely placed to make a difference in the lives of the people affected by disaster.

Oxfam's response

Oxfam has assessed the flood situation in Saurashtra and South Gujarat, and plans to respond with immediate humanitarian relief to 10,600 flood affected people.

We will provide food, water, shelter, hygiene and other subsistence materials, within two weeks, working through local NGOs, at a total cost of =A356,530.

Oxfam GB is recognised among the leading humanitarian organisations in India, having responded to many disasters in its past five decades in the country. The West India office has also been at the forefront of emergency responses as the region is highly prone to drought, earthquake and floods.