A. Situation analysis
Description of the disaster
The monsoon rains that began in the last week of June have triggered flooding and landslides in many parts of the country, affecting around 10,000 families in 56 out of the country’s 77 districts in various ways. Since the monsoon season began, NRCS has responded at the local level with technical and financial support from the IFRC and in-country Partners. The monsoon season typically starts in July and lasts until mid-September, resulting in floods and landslides across many districts of the country due to heavy rainfall. Each year, floods and landslides affect an average of 10,000 families, leaving many people homeless who face various challenges in coping with the situation and meeting immediate humanitarian needs on their own (Source: Nepal Disaster Report 2019).
On 26 August, rainfall intensified for at least four consecutive days, with many rivers crossing warning levels, causing widespread inundation in many parts of the southern plains and reported incidents of landslides in the hilly region. As a result of this incessant rainfall, 11 districts (Myagdi, Rupandehi, Dang, Darchula, Sindhuli, Nawalparasi East, Nawalparasi West, Kanchanpur, Kailali, Udayapur and Mahottari) and 4,899 families were affected, including 2,129 who were temporarily displaced. In addition, government authorities have reported seven deaths and one missing person in recent days (as of 31 August 2021), while further assessment processes are underway.
According to the weather forecast issued by the Government of Nepal’s Department of Hydrology and Meteorology, there is still a looming chance of rainfall in the coming 24 hours, which could affect the water levels of the country’s major rivers, such as Koshi and Narayani. In addition, flash floods are possible in the small rivers that run through Province 1, Gandaki Province, and the southern plains. According to the department, Nepal has witnessed 96.7 per cent of total monsoon rain as of 31 August, which is 14 per cent higher than in previous years. Several of the affected districts have received the equivalent of half of their usual annual rainfall in recent days. By this time of the year, the country should have received approximately 80 per cent of the monsoon rains, with the monsoon expected to begin to recede in the first week of September. Even after the water recedes, humanitarian needs will continue to exist for the affected families.
A preliminary assessment is being conducted; crucial needs exist in terms of shelter, water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH), livelihoods, and protection, while health concerns are critical due to the risk of waterborne and vector-borne disease outbreaks. According to the initial survey and communication with chapters, the capacity of the affected area’s existing health facilities appears to be uncompromised; this will be confirmed during the assessment stage. This also applies to the COVID-19 pandemic context, where displacements may increase the risk of transmission.
Many houses have been destroyed by the landslides and floods in specific pocket areas of several districts, and many displaced families are staying with relatives, while others have sought refuge in nearby schools and other temporary shelters. In addition, the floods and landslides damaged infrastructures such as roads connecting district headquarters to affected municipalities and local markets, as well as livestock, agricultural land and crops, and daily consumables.
Families who have been displaced from their homes are taking up temporary shelters in schools, army camps, and host families. As a result, shelter items remain one of the top priority needs in affected areas. Similarly, displaced families have lost access to water points and sanitation facilities, increasing the risk of health problems, water-borne diseases, and the spread of COVID-19 infection in the community. For this reason, the WASH sector’s immediate needs include temporary latrines, mosquito nets, and health and hygiene promotional activities.
Similarly, there is a need for quick response in the health sector, including awareness or prevention activities with behaviour change on diarrheal, vector and rodent-borne diseases, awareness on respiratory, skin and eye infections, mental health and psychosocial support (MHPSS) to the families of missing and deceased individuals.
There is also a need to incorporate Protection, Gender and Inclusion (PGI) considerations to protect those most vulnerable facing difficult situations, including children, elderly, pregnant women, people with chronic illness, people with disabilities (PWD) and LGBTQIA+ there is a need to prevent further escalating COVID-19 risks by managing safety protocols (including providing PPE and sanitation facilities) and promoting healthy behaviours.
Finally, across all sectors, there is the need to reduce the risk of sexual and gender-based violence (SGBV) (based on global evidence that SGBV is increasing in disaster contexts) while also tackling mental health issues through targeted PSS interventions.
Since June 2021, the NRCS monsoon preparedness and response plan has been implemented effectively and NRCS’s Emergency Operation Centre (EOC) has been operational and actively collecting information, preparing daily situation reports and coordinating with NRCS district chapters as well as provincial committees. Currently, the NRCS team is coordinating all relief efforts for floods and monsoon response in the EOC. Meanwhile, NRCS is regularly participating in emergency meetings of the Ministry of Home Affairs in the National Emergency Operation Centre (NEOC) as well as in the Shelter Cluster.
Nepal is currently experiencing the second wave of COVID-19, with far greater effects and deaths than last year. As of 31 August 2021, 762,647 people have tested positive. However, the positivity rate is roughly 20 per cent, indicating the current testing rate is insufficient. For further information and data please visit the MoHP. According to a recent national seroprevalence survey done in July-August, up to 68 per cent of the population may have been exposed. With 10,750 deaths reported, making Nepal among the highest fatality rate in the Asia Pacific when compared to the country’s population. In May 2021, WHO has categorized the level of transmission as ‘community transmission’. The vaccination campaign against COVID-19 was initiated on 27 January 2021 followed by an interrupted inflow of vaccines. As of August 2021, about 15 per cent of the total population are fully immunized whereas about 17 per cent have received the first dose only. With 35,591 active cases in the country1 , there is a high chance of transmission of COVID-19 infection among the people affected by the flood and landslide (daily infection rate is still around 20 per cent) either among those staying in home isolation or – most importantly – among those staying in evacuation centres.