India: UNICEF pro-active in Gujarat floods

Gujarat was lashed by unprecedented heavy rains since 21st June 2005, resulting in floods in South Gujarat and parts of Saurashtra. More than 8,000 villages in 19 districts of Gujarat have been severely affected by the calamity. Anand, Vadodara, Kheda Surat, and Valsad were the worst affected districts.

Normal life, including supply of power and drinking water was badly disrupted. Most of the rivers and dams were flowing above the danger mark, inundating prominent cities like Vadodara and Surat. 226 persons are reported to have died and approximately 450,000 people, including women and children had to be evacuated to safer places. Rail and road links between Ahmedabad and Mumbai remained disrupted for almost ten days. Schools were closed due to heavy flooding. Government of Gujarat immediately launched a massive relief operation to provide food packets, drinking water, medicine, etc. to the affected population.

UNICEF Gujarat office was monitoring the situation on a daily basis and maintaining close contact with the Government for providing assistance to the affected families.

At the request of the Government, UNICEF has already supplied 150,000 ORS Packets and 5.0 million chlorine tablets, to be distributed amongst the families.

Manjula Ba and Ramil Ba of Antroli village in Kheda district felt relieved that with the ORS packets supplied by UNICEF, they would be able to save the life of their child who was suffering from diarrhea because of contaminated drinking water.

Similarly, Shiana Bano of Matar, which is one of the worst hit villages of Kheda districts, expressed satisfaction on receiving chlorination tablets which make water safe and prevent water-borne diseases.

With no downpour in the last 24 hours and the flood situation returning to normal, international NGOs like Oxfam GB, CARE, Action Aid and CRS have come forward to assess the situation and identify gaps in flood relief. However, the rail link between Ahmedabad-Baroda continues to remain disrupted.

The Government has mobilized its revenue and mobile medical machinery to counter any disease outbreak. Though no disease outbreak has been reported so far, fumigation continues in affected villages to prevent vector borne diseases. Drinking water is also being monitored to check for any contamination.

Families are moving back from temporary camps and the Government has reportedly distributed Rs 20 million as cash assistance to the affected families. NGOs and NRIs also continue to supplement relief measures. UNICEF, apart from airlifting 400,000 antibiotic capsules and handing them over to the health department, is also procuring additional quantities of ORS, chlorine tablets, 25,000 kgs of bleaching powder, antibiotics, communication material and video spots as requested by Government. Nine UNICEF staff of Gujarat Office are out in the worst affected districts to assess the situation and the need for any specific interventions for children.