More than a week of heavy monsoon rains in South Asia has led to major flooding in three countries affecting 3.2 million children. With the monsoons just beginning, more bad weather could result in a major humanitarian crisis leading to further death, injury, mass displacement and the potential spread of water-borne diseases. More than 150 people are known to have died but hundreds more remain missing and the death toll is likely to increase.
In the north-eastern state of Assam, more than 4,000 villages are flooded. Major roads into and out of the state are blocked, making relief efforts particularly challenging. Over 5.2 million people, which is more than a tenth of the state’s total population, have been directly been affected, including 1.72 million children. In northern Bihar, a further one million children are affected.
As per the latest floods report from the State Disaster Management Authority (SDMA), 30 of the 33 districts are severely affected due to the river embankments being breached in a number of areas. While closely monitoring the situation — in coordination with SPHERE India, the national humanitarian coalition — Save the Children is prepared to respond to the most vital needs of children and their families. It would do so in coordination with the State government and other agencies (non-governmental agencies) — at the national level.
Anindit Roy, Programme & Policy Director at Save the Children, said, “We aim to reach 15,000 children in Assam immediately with life-saving aid including temporary shelter, water, hygiene and sanitation services – all of which are essential to protect children from the elements and potential disease. Our teams on the ground say roads are blocked and power is out, making it very difficult to access towns and villages cut off from the outside world. Working with the government and our local partners our priority is to help the most vulnerable and hard-to-reach communities affected by the floods.”
The state government is responding to the situation in its full capacity. With damage to infrastructure and crops livelihoods have been affected, and the continued situation could lead to another health emergency.
Save the Children is part of the ongoing Joint Rapid Needs Assessment focusing on child protection and education. The aid agency has also proposed a detailed needs assessment in order to understand the full extent of impact and support communities.