Oxfam launches response to the worst floods in Assam in ten years

Posted by Jonaid Jilani Press Officer

10th Jul 2012

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NEW DELHI, JULY 9. Oxfam is responding to the worst floods Assam in ten years with water, sanitation, public health and emergency food security, and shelter support following a rapid assessment in some of the flood affected villages in Morigaon, Sonitpur and Nowgaon districts. The unprecedented early flood has affected 2.4 million people and displaced half a million. Oxfam is planning to help up to 9000 households and 56,000 people

"The need for immediate humanitarian assistance is crucial and must be undertaken at a greater speed and scale. The situation in camps and villages continues to be grim. Hopefully, the funds of Rs. 500 crore that the Prime Minister announced on his recent visit to Assam will also soon start flowing providing relief to the worst affected districts,'' says Nisha Agrawal, Chief Executive Officer (CEO), Oxfam India.

The Oxfam assessment team visited flood affected areas from 3-6 July in Morigaon and Sonitpur district in Assam.

"Oxfam's response package would involve a mix of provision of clean drinking water, temporary sanitation facilities, and distribution of hygiene kits, public health promotion, emergency shelter and construction of toilets,'' says Nisha Agrawal, Chief Executive Officer (CEO), Oxfam India.

The flood affected areas in Assam are poverty pockets and are most vulnerable to risks of disaster. Though Morigaon district is annually hit by floods, the recent floods are reported to be the worst in the last 10 years. Moreover, the floods have affected districts where preparedness and coping mechanism is low such as Sonitpur district. The impact of the floods in Sonitpur district has also been very severe.

There are some villages which are damaged to such an extent that it is not possible for people to return to them. Inhabitants from these villages continue to reside in the government supported internally displaced persons (IDP) camps. Currently, the number of displaced across the three districts is 156,551 persons. As of 6 July it was reported there were 175 IDP camps of varying sizes across the three districts.

With this being just the beginning of the monsoons, the people of Assam face major challenges. While rains have stopped for the time being, further rains could pose a major threat to those who return home as well as those still living in emergency shelters or on raised river and road embankments and railway lines.

"The possibility of contamination of hand pumps, the main drinking water source has increased risk of water-borne diseases. Diarrhoea cases are being reported from some IDP camps. Other ailments like fever, and skin diseases are few-and-far in between so far, the situation needs to be monitored when the receding floodwaters drain out leaving behind pools of stagnant water in low-lying resident areas,'' says Nisha Agrawal, Chief Executive Officer (CEO), Oxfam India. For more information or to arrange an interview, please contact Jonaid Jilani on T: +44 (0)18 65 472193 or M: +44 (0)7810 181514 or jjilani@oxfam.org.uk

Notes to Editors:

Oxfam is looking to respond to the with humanitarian assistance in the key areas of ensuring safe drinking water, sanitation, disease control and hygiene promotion, emergency food security and livelihood and shelter.

The floods in June due to heavy rains and breaches in embankments of the Brahmaputra and its tributaries have caused loss of life and property across the state. However, there are some districts that have been worst hit namely Morigaon, Sonitpur and Nowgaon affecting more than 13,19,260 people. According to the reports 588 villages are severely affected by the floods. The total number of people displaced from the state were 4,84,555 (government numbers/cumulative figure). Nearly 1,56,681 displaced persons continue to live in relief camps till today.

Blog post written by Jonaid Jilani

Press Officer

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