Monsoon rains and typhoons have inundated large areas of Asia, particularly in the Philippines, Cambodia, Pakistan, and Bangladesh. Thousands of people have fled their homes; others are living on roofs. Caritas teams are distributing aid and helping families recover when their homes are damaged and their crops swept away.
Caritas Philippines (locally called NASSA) is responding to typhoon damage in several dioceses. More than 5000 people are living in evacuation centres. Many more families are staying at home despite 7-foot-high water; they are living on second floors or staying with relatives who have two-storey houses. Caritas is distributing vouchers to 10,000 families for food, soap, detergent, and other necessities.
In Cambodia, where floods have affected over 100,000 families, Caritas teams are on the ground in several provinces. Thousands of families have been evacuated to pagodas, schools and other government buildings. They lack food and health care. Caritas Cambodia is giving families packages with rice, salt, sugar, canned fish, and other foodstuffs. Caritas also plans to set up five mobile clinics and to distribute 3,700 tents in safe areas.
The floods have drowned cows and pigs, and ruined thousands of hectares of rice and other crops. To help farmers recover, Caritas Cambodia plans to provide rice seed to 7000 families and vegetable seeds to 1,500 families.
In Bangladesh, two months of continuous rain, combined with inadequate drainage systems, flooded many impoverished villages in the south. Caritas is giving rice, cooking oil, and other food to more than 8000 families.
Cooperating with the government, Caritas Bangladesh will pay flood-affected people to repair damaged houses, latrines, roads, and embankments. “This will be the main source of income for the poorest families, who will not have any employment opportunities once they return from the flood shelters,” says Dr. Benedict Alo, head of Caritas Bangladesh.
In the past, Caritas Bangladesh has taught people to swim and how to rescue others from drowning. Caritas works with villagers to send out early warnings during natural disasters.
In Orissa, a flooded area of India, Caritas India is working in two dioceses providing immediate relief and health camps. Caritas plans to distribute food and other items, as well as help affected families restart their livelihoods.
Pakistanis still suffering from massive flooding in summer 2010 have been struck by severe floods this year as well. Caritas Pakistan is giving out tents and food packages, as well as running mobile clinics and helping farmers who lost their crops. Caritas plans to aid 240,000 people.
In a time when the entire Pakistan is affected by the most severe outbreak of dengue fever of the last years, there is also an immediate need to focus on controlling the communicable diseases including water as well as vector borne diseases that are overwhelming the flood affected areas. The serious gaps appearing in the provision of health care and hygiene should be urgently addressed.
Monsoon rains have swamped large areas of Thailand and Vietnam, killing more than 250 people and affecting millions. Caritas Internationalis is liaising with partners on the ground to assess the most urgent needs.