India

Joint Needs Assessment Report of Assam Floods, 2017

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Assessment
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1. Executive Summary

The second wave of floods in Assam which occurred in July 2017 affected 17, 43,119 population across 26 districts. 86,223.19 hectares of crop area was affected in 2450 villages under 81 revenue circles with official death figures rising to 83 till July 30 th . 123 relief camps and 259 relief distribution centres were operational as on 13th July 2017. In the event of the emergency crisis and the worsening flood scenario Inter Agency Group Assam carried out Joint Needs Assessment in 32 affected villages in Assam based on availability of manpower and resources. The executive summary highlights some of the key findings and critical gaps in six life saving sectors.

Analysis of the sector on food security and livelihood has shown that 56% of the affected people have food availability for less than a week and 34% of the people have reported availability of food for a period of 1-3 weeks. This leads us to the conclusion that that over 90% of the affected people will be without access to food after three weeks. Only 9% of the people reported food sufficiency for a period of one month. Significant amount of decrease in food intake among male, female and children were also reported. 91% of the people reported availability of fodder only for a period of less than a week. The district administration had set up relief camps across affected districts which were insufficient to meet the needs of the affected people. 44% of the Assessed areas reported that no relief camps were in operation. 38% of the relief camps were found to be inaccessible to persons with disabilities, transgender, SC and STs.

Among other WASH concerns it has been found that only 31% of the villages had access to safe drinking water while more than half i.e. 69% of the villages had no access to safe and clean drinking water.
Similar conditions were also reported from other affected districts of Assam as observed by our assessment teams as well as through SitReps, print and electronic media. 84% of the villages were found to be defecating in the open, thereby increasing the chances of diarrhea or cholera outbreak. This indicates the need for installation of temporary / transitional toilets with public health promotion awareness campaigns as a short-term measure. However, there is a need for constructing flood resilient toilets, considering Assam being hit by floods every year. On the availability of safe drinking water, 78% of the villages are under the risk of water contamination at source with only 22% reporting little or no risk of water contamination. The situation is quite grim. Hence, there is immediate need of water testing of all existing sources and chlorination to ensure access to safe water, thereby preventing any potential water and sanitation related diseases. There is an increasing awareness to incorporate inclusive, participatory, and gender-sensitive strategies for implementation of response programmes. It may be suggested that menstrual hygiene management (MHM), should not be limited to distribution of sanitary pads, rather address the socio-cultural practices around MHM. There is a need for strategic planning to address MHM with a gender-sensitive and inclusive approach.

Analyzing the aspect of shelter among the affected population a total of 4050 houses have been found to be affected by flood from the 32 assessed villages in which 210 houses were fully and 696 houses were partially destroyed. It may be mentioned here that release of water by NEEPCO in Lakhimpur led to inundation to villages downstream and several houses were damaged due to siltation.

Health services were also not adequately met post disaster in comparison to services available predisaster.
Some of the major reasons for lack of health services were non accessibility, damage to buildings due to siltation and washing away due to overflow of water. There is need for setting up of immediate and continuous medical camps in affected areas. It was reported that post flood situation is likely to get worse once the water recedes leaving behind debris which would lead to communicable diseases and health problems for all particularly children.

Due to flood and erosion many of the schools are in risk. Large scale displacements have forced children’s access to school cutting them off from their peers. Books and teaching learning materials (TLM) have been damaged for large number of children in most of the districts. Of the total number of 83 flood related death 23 are reported to be children.

On the issue of protection, women and children were found to be in vulnerable condition. Among the most vulnerable were pregnant and lactating mothers and the elderly and differently abled persons of the village. No safe and private facilities were made available for women and girls. It was also brought to light that children and youth of some of the families have migrated to different places for livelihood to support family making them vulnerable to the trap of human trafficking. On this concern Dhemaji & Majuli Districts were found to be in high risk of human trafficking.

Coordination by Inter Agency Group Assam was carried out at state and district level throughout the assessment period. Immediate response was carried out by member agencies after preliminary assessment considering the urgency of the crisis situation. Unified Response Strategy (URS Matrix) was circulated to all the member agencies for information sharing and coordinated approach to humanitarian response. IAG Assam coordination meetings were held at the state level and district IAG meetings were also organized at district level.