Nepal: OCHA Koshi Flood Response Update 13 May 2009

This Koshi Flood Response Update is based on information received from the weekly Koshi Flood General Coordination Meeting, chaired by the Sunsari Chief District Officer (CDO), Government of Nepal District Offices, UN Agencies and relief partners.

1. General Situation Update

Background: Approximately 42,800 Nepalese (7,572 households) were affected by the Koshi floods in Sunsari District on 18 August 2008, in addition to an estimated 11,000 Indian nationals (2,328 households), according to the Government of Nepal (GoN).

Situation Update: The majority of Koshi flood-affected displaced households returned to their area of pre-flood origin. However, the flood displaced households from the heavily sanded areas returned with limited shelter, access to basic facilities including drinking water, sanitation facilities, adequate shelter or livelihood support.

Cash-for-Food Update: From 27 April - 10 May, the DDRC Sunsari provided the Cash-for-Food for the Koshi flood affected families from Shreepur 1-9 and Paschim Kusaha 3, 4. Total of 5,139 households received the Cash-for-Food, which was completed on 10 May. DDRC provided the Cash-for-Food with the norms of NPR 1,000 per family member to households with less than five members, families with more than five members received a lump sum of NPR 5075.00.

Return Package Update: The process of distributing the government Return Package of NPR 50,000.00 was postponed from 27 April, as the District Administrative Office (DAO) Sunsari prioritised the provision of Cash-for-Food, given the dire situation for the families unable to procure food, in particular families from the red zone and those residing in the camps. From 10 May, the distribution of the Return Package resumed with the DAO consensus of local political parties. A total of 7,343 families applied for the Government Return Package, as of 13 May. A total of 2,438 families (Green zone: 1,680, Yellow zone: 758 families) from the flood affected area received the sum, as of 13 May.

Government Compensation Package: The government approved a total of NPR 1608.2975 million to compensate flood damaged buildings, land and crops, as well as funds for two Kattha of land for the landless households and compensation for deaths that occurred in camps. The DAO Sunsari will distribute the compensation package when the Government releases the budget. However, the releasing the budget from the central government is anticipated to be delay due to present scenario of political instability. From 6 May, a District Technical Team, including District Land Survey Office and District Land Revenue Office, continues to demarcate the damaged land in the red zone of the flood affected area.

Landlessness: The estimated minimum number of flood-affected landless household is 1,422 families. In the last GCM, the Assistant Chief District Officer (ACDO) stated the need of re-verification of the number of landless households, as a number of households may not have been recorded in the January verification process. Since the landless are eligible for two Kattha of land through the compensation package, there is a need for a durable solution that requires a detailed approach for purchasing land for the landless. The GCM suggested the DDRC form a taskforce that determine the approach for the government to purchase that will be distributed to landless accordingly. It was estimated that total of 250-300 families have lost houses and land completely by the main stream of the flood during Koshi embankment breach; for which DAO formed a committee representing flood affected victims for the identification of these families.

Disaster Preparedness: In February 2009, UNESCO identified potential sites at risk of embankment breach along the Koshi River at the points of Prakaspur, Rajbas and Pulthegaunda in Sunsari District. In the absence of effective mitigation measures, embankment breaches may impact on the densely populated locations of Inaruwa or Biratnagar. Following this information LDO, CDO Sunsari and UN OCHA jointly conducted a field observation on 12 May to review the potential breach points in order to discuss preventive and preparedness measures, including mitigation, advocacy and contingency planning. Based on the observation, the team concluded that Rajbas is at high risk following the Pulthegaunda and then Prakashpur as the potential sites of Koshi embankment breach.

Action Points:

- Monitoring of mitigation preventive measures planned for Pulthegaunda potential breach.

- Advocacy with central government for mitigation on Rajbas embankment.

- Formulation of specific contingency plan with clear responsibilities of different sectors. All sectors should provisioned sufficient stock-pilling and plan of action.

Relocation/Camp Consolidation: It is anticipated that the execution of the GoN Compensation Package will be delayed to some extent due to present political situation in Nepal. Based on this scenario, the GCM decided to consolidate Sunsari Khola Camp into Lauki Border Custom Camp in the last GCM since Sunsari Khola Camp is highly vulnerable to flooding, hazardous to health and majority of the flood-affected are landless. To activate the decision, a separate meeting will be organized with LDO and CDO Sunsari on 14 May to finalize the details for implementing the consolidation of the Sunsari Khola Camp into Lauki Border Custom Camp. The WASH Cluster will ensure the necessary arrangements are in place regarding water and sanitation facilities before the relocation takes place. Transportation will be managed from DDRC budget and NRCS will provide tarpaulins. There is a need for an active information dissemination and interaction with the flood-affected displaced families to ensure households are informed of options.

CCCM Displacement Tracking: Seven formal camps remain, with a total of 500 families (population of 2,848 people), according to the CCCM DTM. This is 6.6% of total displaced population. Other camps are vacated as the flood affected population voluntarily return to their place of pre-flood origin.

Decommissioning Camps: Neharu Park and Naharchowk Red Cross B camps are vacated, CCCM requested the WASH cluster to decommission these camps as soon as possible. Emergency Shelter: NRCS Sunsari committed to distribute tarpaulin to replace the damaged shelters in camps based on the re-verification data provided by CCCM as of 14 May.

Health Service in Return Areas: Under the inadequate provision of health services, in particular in the red areas where children, pregnant women and elderly are particularly vulnerable to the harsh weather conditions. Flood-affected families commonly suffer from sand in the air (from winds), cough and fever, eye infections, diarrhoea, skin infections. The District Health Office (DHO) stated that regular follow-up was made to ensure the regular health services especially in red areas of Shreepur-8 are provided. The health services also encouraged people to access the established health centres. The District Health Office (DHO) committed to ensuring that health services will be adequately provided in all areas and stated that no further human resources or medicines are required for the general treatments. However, given the severity of the impact of the living conditions, intensive health monitoring is required. The Biratnagar Eye Hospital committed to organize eye camp free of cost for Koshi flood victims to help on eye problems targeted to red area especially in Shreepur-8 (Mansuri tole).

UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs:
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