Tajikistan: Southerners prepare for further flooding

[This report does not necessarily reflect the views of the United Nations]
ANKARA, 18 Jul 2005 (IRIN) - Residents in southern Tajikistan are still reeling after heavy flooding over the past two months continued on Monday. "Water levels are not expected to decrease at least until Wednesday and it's more than likely that further flooding will occur," Ole Ramsing, project manager for the United Nations Disaster Risk Management Project (UNDRMP) warned from the Tajik, capital, Dushanbe. UNDRMP supports information collection and dissemination in affected areas.

Already some 12,000 people had been affected by the flooding, with more than 10,000 evacuated, primarily in the southern Tajik districts of Penjikent and Hamadoni, explained Ramsing.

Current damage estimates now exceed US $10 million and Dushanbe has already appealed to the international community for humanitarian and financial assistance.

Although the vast majority of those evacuated had shelter, having been relocated to temporary camps and other areas, food, medicine, drinking water, tents, mattresses and various household supplies were still needed, Ramsing maintained.

"They are trying to stop further flooding. It's taking a lot of resources and if they're not successful and further flooding occurs, those numbers will increase dramatically," he warned.

According to the latest situation report from the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), warmer temperatures and heavy rains over the past two months had resulted in an increase in water levels in many of the mountainous state's primary rivers.

This had resulted in numerous floods and mudflows affecting the infrastructure and livelihoods of Penjikent district of Sughd Oblast, Hamadoni and Farkhor districts of Khatlon Oblast, Ishkashim, Murghab, Roshtkalla, Vanj, Shugnan district of GBAO (Gorno-Badakhshan Autonomous Oblast) and Nurobod and Tavildara districts of the Rasht Valley.

Meanwhile, Tajik authorities were still struggling to prevent further flooding with heavy machinery mobilised and now working in two locations in the Turdiev, Jamoat and Chubek localities, the OCHA report said. Work was being hampered by an acute lack of fuel, lubricants, tyres and spare parts for the machinery.

"The government has mobilised more than 160 pieces of heavy machinery, but many of them are old and not working, with many of them breaking down," Ramsing said.

In one area visited in Hamodoni, the UN official noted that further flooding could have a serious impact on drinking water supplies in the area, affecting upwards of 10,000 people.

"By that we mean they would have to be relocated and require tents, food, etc. The needs would increase dramatically," he said. "So hopefully by providing fuel and other things for riverbank protection now, it is possible to avoid this further flooding," he explained.

The Tajik government arranged an assessment mission to affected areas in the Hamadoni district on Thursday where flooding was ongoing and water levels had yet to recede. The government has requested assistance from the UN and the international community to address the multiple impacts of the disaster.

Based on the Rapid Emergency Assessment and Coordination Team (REACT), the disaster coordination partnership set up under the Leadership of OCHA, the Emergency Ministry has led the government's response on the ground.


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