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ACT Alliance Alert: Floods in Assam, India

Source: ACT Alliance - Switzerland - Wed, 4 Jul 2012 09:55 GMT
Author: Elisabeth Gouel
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Any views expressed in this article are those of the author and not of Thomson Reuters Foundation.

Alert  

India

Rains Lash Assam

Geneva, 4 July 2012

1.       Brief description of the emergency and impact

Incessant rains have lashed many parts of the state of Assam causing an alarming rise in the water level of the Brahmaputra River affecting all 27 districts of the State.   The Brahmaputra has breached its embankment in five places affecting 1,744 villages across nine districts and 70,000 hectares of cropland.  The worst-hit districts include Dhemaji, Lakhimpur, Dibrugarh, Jorhat, Nalbari, Barpeta and Dhubri where water has engulfed large areas of cropland. This is claimed to be the worst flood in Assam since 1950.

More than 1.2 million people have been affected and to date the death toll stands at 61.   The floods are also threatening the existence of Majuli, the world's largest inhabited river island.  The Kaziranga National Park, a world heritage site, and Pabitora sanctuary, both housing the highly endangered one horned rhino, are under flood waters. 16 people have also died due to landslides triggered by incessant heavy rain in various parts of the state in the past two weeks.

Standing crops such as rice have been destroyed.  Nearly 484,000 affected people have fled their homes and are sheltering in 768 relief camps while mobile rescue centres are in operation to provide help to the affected people.  Large numbers of people have taken shelter on higher ground with their livestock.  An army spokesman reported that over 2,500 marooned people have been rescued by the army from the flood affected districts of Assam.

There is extensive damage to public infrastructure and thousands of houses have collapsed.  More than 50 potable water sources have been contaminated by the flood waters.  Grain banks have also been damaged. 

2.       Why is an ACT response needed

ACT India Forum members Lutheran World Service India Trust (LWSIT) and Churches Auxiliary for Social Action (CASA) are both present in the area of flooding and have carried out needs assessments in their different operational areas.  The most urgently needed items include shelter, food, potable water and household items. Both members are in an ideal situation to extend such relief items to those who have had to leave their homes but have not received any assistance.  Provision of these basic items will help these families on the road to re-establishing their lives.   

3.       National and international response

The government and state authorities in Assam are fully engaged in the evacuation of people to safer places.  The National Disaster Response Force (NDRF) has 16 teams engaged in the evacuation and rescue operations as well as the airdropping of basic relief items.  The army has deployed 752 personnel for rescue and relief operations and twenty tonnes of relief materials have been delivered by the air force which is keeping a close watch on the situation in the area. 

The Prime Minister has declared that the priority for the next few days is to rescue people who remain marooned and extend relief to those who have been forced to leave their homes.  Once search and rescue operations have been completed, the focus will shift to restoration of damaged infrastructure.

With water levels now receding, airdropping by helicopters has been currently put on hold. The pilots, however, remain on stand-by for any emergency situation, including evacuation of the marooned. (Source: ZEE News)

4.       ACT Alliance response

The assessments carried out to date indicate that the most urgent needs are for shelter, food, water, medical aid, clothing, and household utensils. 

ACT India Forum members Lutheran World Service India Trust (LWSIT) and Churches Auxiliary for Social Action (CASA) have already initiated an assessment of the flood situation and are planning to respond to the emergency situation.

LWSIT is in touch with the Inter Agency Group of Assam and the District Administration and updating information on disaster situation.  India ACT forum members, CASA, LWSIT and the United Evangelical Lutheran Churches in India (UELCI) are in contact with each other and discussing the flood situation.  

5.       Planned activities

CASA and LWSI are in the process of preparing a preliminary appeal based on the rapid needs assessment carried out as by the Inter Agency Group, Assam of which CASA is a member. Also being factored in are more details collected by CASA from its Community Based Disaster Risk Reduction (CBDRR) project areas and partners. Activities will focus on shelter, food and household goods.

6.       Constraints

It is the beginning of the monsoon season. While most of the states are reporting deficit rainfall Assam is under severe floods. Even though the magnitude of the event is colossal there is not much coverage in the international media which could adversely impact the funding.

 

Any funding indication or pledge should be communicated to Jean-Daniel Birmele, ACT Chief Finance Officer (jbi@actalliance.org)

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