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Cold wave in southern plains & western hills of Nepal
Geneva, 10 January 2014
1. Brief description of the emergency and impact
Lives of the poorest and most oppressed families of the terai (southern plain) and western hill districts of Nepal have been affected by a severe cold wave as of the last week of December 2013. No sunlight has been seen for days after a thick fog enveloped the area bringing with it a sudden cold wave following winter rains in some of the districts. Families living in houses with weak insulation structures have been mostly affected by the cold. People are rarely seen outside or even in offices unless there is urgent work. Flights from Kathmandu to the terai and hilly districts have been disturbed due to poor visibility. Road transport has also been affected because of thick fog. Lives of people in the hilly districts of the far western region have been hit hard following winter rain and snowfall. According to the meteorological office, there will be more winter rain and snowfall in the terai and western hill districts in the upcoming days.
Dalits (terai and hill), freed bonded labourers (Haliya, Kamiaya) and people displaced due to the 2013 flooding have been badly affected. Among them, the elderly and children have been worst affected. In some districts, schools have been closed for over a week. Winter vegetables have been destroyed due to hard frost. There has been a sudden increase in cold-related health problems including common colds, coughing, pneumonia, cold diarrhoea and respiratory problems in local health clinics / hospitals in the districts.
2. Why is an ACT response needed?
Many of the cold wave affected Village Development Committees (VDCs) and municipalities are within the operational areas of ACT Alliance Nepal Forum members. ACT members are well known in these areas and are often requested to assist government humanitarian responses during emergencies. Poor and oppressed families including the terai and hill Dalits, freed Kamaiyas and Haliyas and disaster-affected families (the groups most affected by the current cold wave) are the primary target population of ACT Alliance Nepal Forum members. District Disaster Relief Committees (DDRCs) in the cold wave affected districts have appealed for humanitarian assistance.
3. National and international responses
The Central Natural Disaster Relief Committee (CNDRC) has sent directives to all District Disaster Relief Committees (DDRCs) for their proactive action for timely and effective responses. Similarly the CNDRC meeting, on 31 December 2013, requested all humanitarian agencies to extend humanitarian assistance to the cold-affected families. DDRCs in cold wave affected districts have conducted meetings among the agencies for effective coordination in analyzing the situation and identifying potential sources for help. In some municipalities, Government agencies have arranged firewood for heating purposes. District Chapters of the Nepal Red Cross Society, local clubs and social organizations have distributed some clothing items. However, this assistance have not yet reached the most vulnerable and oppressed families living in remote areas.
4. ACT Alliance response and planned activities
The Lutheran World Federation Nepal (LWF Nepal) and other ACT Alliance Nepal forum members are assessing the situation in the affected districts and closely following developments. Should the situation be further aggravated, ACT Nepal Forum members plan to assist the most severely affected and vulnerable families with life saving relief items.
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