20 December 2011
By Navdha Malhotra
HelpAge International is working to help 2,500 older people and their families affected by the Thailand floods. The worst floods in five decades have affected over four million households and 13.5 million people.
Urgent need for food and income security Despite the situation improving as flood waters start to recede, certain areas remain under water. Pressing needs include food and income security, with the most immediate requirements being drinking water, clothes and canned food. While these are available in local markets, they are extremely expensive and most people cannot afford them.
Many people have lost their jobs because of the floods and have been without an income for almost three months. As a result, they are relying on distributions and relief efforts.
Supporting vulnerable communities HelpAge is working in Singburi and Chainat provinces with our partners, the Rural Elderly Entrepreneurship Development Association (REEDA). We are also working in Ayudhaya and Bangkok with the YMCA.
In Singburi and Chainat provinces:
With REEDA we have distributed 1,000 relief kits to vulnerable older people in the provinces of Singburi and Chainat. We are also providing cash transfers of 500 Baht (US$16) each to 50 vulnerable older people.
While the flood waters have receded by more than one metre, rice fields remain flooded and it will take time for the water to retreat completely. Flood victims who have been living in evacuation centres have started to move back to their houses to assess the damage and rebuild.
Financial and physical support in repairing and rebuilding houses is a concern, especially for older people.
Lek Boonkhum, 63, sews hats for a living and looks after her 93-year-old mother, Loh.
She said: "Because we received warnings of the flood, I was able to move my mother to the second floor of my house. I have prepared a temporary bed for her because I lost most of my furniture in the flood waters.
"There are cracks in the floor and walls of my house. I worry that my mother might fall through them. I will need help to rebuild my house once the flood waters have receded completely."
REEDA's health care volunteers are currently carrying out an assessment on home repairs. The repairs will be implemented in January 2012 in coordination with the Thai army.
In Ayudhaya and Bangkok:
With the YMCA and the support of volunteers, we have distributed 450 relief packages to older people in Maharat, Ban Prak and Bangban districts of Ayudhaya. We have also distributed 400 relief packages to older people in two communities in Saimai.
Concerns of older people affected by floods
The main concern for older people is the future of the children and grandchildren they care for. Most of them have lost their livelihoods because of the floods and have no source of income.
Pain Saengchain is 84 and cares for her grandson, Phupha, who is eight years old. She earns some money by making paper flowers for funerals through REEDA's income and grants scheme.
Pain said: "Phupha's mother left to start another family before the floods and his father passed away unexpectedly. Apart for me, there is no other family to take care of him. I need more money to provide for both of us."
What you can do If you would like to support our work in Thailand helping older people affected by the floods, donate to our sister organisation, Age UK's Thailand flood appeal.
Thank you very much.