South Asia floods: two months later

Disaster response and recoveryFloodsBangladeshIndiaNepal

During the flooding in Bangladesh, Bibha’s house was washed away. With her family she managed to take shelter in a neighbouring house.

Both she and her eldest daughter fell sick with a fever. With the roads destroyed around Kurigram she had no way to get to the health centre to get help.

Bibha’s husband is a labourer, but during monsoon season he doesn’t have any work and the whole family has to survive on only one meal a day. Now their circumstances had become much worse.

Tearfund’s partner LAMB responded to the floods quickly, setting up a medical camp in Bibha’s village.

‘I had nothing to do except watch my daughter’s suffering,’ says Bibha. ‘As a mother it was painful for me to see her condition gradually deteriorating. When the LAMB medical team arrived my heart filled with hope and a doctor carefully checked my daughter and me. They gave us medicine. Now my daughter and I are fine. I thank LAMB for their generous and timely support. If it wasn’t for them I could not save my daughter.’

Bibha
Bibha (Photo credit: Mahatab liton)

Rapid response

The catastrophic flooding in August left more than 1,200 people dead across India, Bangladesh and Nepal. It’s estimated 41 million people have been affected by the devastation, including families like Bibha’s.

Tearfund and its partners were quick to respond as nearly three quarters of a million homes were destroyed or damaged and crops and livestock swept away.

Now that the flood waters have receded we’re continuing to stand with those affected and bring help where it is needed.

In Bangladesh, a nation also dealing with a large influx of refugees from Myanmar, our partners LAMB and Baptist Aid distributed essential and life-saving items. These included emergency food supplies, water bottles, water purification tablets, and hygiene kits for women and adolescent girls, as well as medical support.

Two months after the floods the plan is to provide more assistance to help households to recover. This includes provision of seeds and fertilisers to farmers, cash grants to buy foods and house repairing materials, educational materials for schools, portable stoves and ovens, and safe drinking water points.

Patrick Palma, from Tearfund’s Bangladesh team, reinforces the importance of this work: ‘Because of the flooding people are suffering a lot. This support is helping them to restore their normal lives. Those affected are very thankful to Tearfund and our partners for their timely and effective response.’

Helping farmers

In Nepal 90,000 homes have been destroyed. The UN has called it the worst flooding incident in the country in a decade.

‘Although the flood waters have receded, agricultural land has been left covered in silt, ’says Rajan Ghimire, Tearfund’s Response Manager in Nepal. ‘Households reliant on farming for their livelihoods need urgent assistance to clear their land and sow seeds during the paddy sowing season (October/November). If this doesn’t happen people will lose yet another harvest.

‘Providing agricultural tools, seeds and transitional shelter are essential for early recovery. This will ensure affected households are able to rebuild their livelihoods and have somewhere safe to sleep whilst they construct a permanent home.’ 

Tearfund is also working with church partners in Nepal to provide emergency food supplies, hygiene kits and medical assistance.

Higher ground

In India the floods have affected a large area. Tearfund’s Country Director, Prince David, says the Bihar region has been hit particularly hard, ‘superseding anything that we have seen in the past 10 years.’

Tearfund partners EFICOR and EHA have responded in several districts in Bihar, Uttar Pradesh and Assam. Their first response was to evacuate people due to the rising waters.

As people moved to higher ground, food was distributed followed by materials for temporary shelters and hygiene kits. This was followed by a cash distribution programme for those who have been affected most severely.

Prince David reports that over 600 vulnerable children have received support. Many schools have been destroyed and teachers are involved in the flood response.

The big picture

So far, Tearfund supporters have generously given over £270,000 to help our local partners respond to the floods through a number of projects. We’re also working to increase the resilience of communities vulnerable to disasters such as this.

The longer term aspect of Tearfund’s response is our climate change campaigning, says Senior Campaigner Ben Niblett: ‘Action now to cut the world’s carbon emissions is vital to stop floods like these becoming the new normal.

‘Tearfund is part of the Renew Our World campaign, uniting the church around the world to hold our leaders to their climate promises, which is why we campaign on vital issues like climate change’. 

PRAY FOR:


  • The most vulnerable who have been affected by the floods: for children, women (especially those who are pregnant), the disabled and the elderly.
  • Tearfund staff and our partners’ staff who are involved in the response and recovery work.
  • The funding to continue reaching those most in need.

If you want to know more have a look at our Renew Our World campaign

Andrew Horton

Andrew is Online News and Film Editor for Tearfund. This involves finding and writing up inspiring articles for the website, and capturing compelling stories on video.