Pinky Devi, who lives in Sopaul, Bihar, gave birth to her first child the day after the floodwaters of the overflowing Kose River destroyed her home.
BIHAR, India, August 27, 2008 – A two-kilometer gap in the embankment of the Kose River in Bihar caused a flood last week that engulfed hundreds of villages, even in areas that had not been hit by the river in the past. Water.ц
To date, the floods have caused 33 deaths, although the number of fatalities is likely to increase.
“The floods in Bihar constitute a serious emergency situation, destroying more than 200,000 homes and affecting at least 1.4 million people,” said Patrick McCormick, UNICEF Emergency Communications Officer.
The floods destroyed roads and cut off water and electricity supplies in the affected districts. In many places, the railways are still submerged, forcing food and other basic necessities to be transported in boats.
The flooding of this international river also caused the displacement of some 55,000 people in Nepal.
Displaced from their homes
It is estimated that people displaced by the floods in Bihar will not be able to return to their homes for two to three months, when the waters of the Kosi River return to normal and the embankment can be repaired. The increase in the number of displaced people will exacerbate the overcrowding in the camps where they are sheltering, which could lead to outbreaks of contagious diseases.
In addition, temperatures in the region have been extremely high, which has aggravated the suffering of displaced people, especially children and pregnant women.
“In situations like this, children are particularly vulnerable,” explained Mr. McCormick. “Among the most serious threats are illness and physical and mental stress caused by moving from their homes to refugee camps.”
The distribution of supplies
Last week, UNICEF carried out a rapid assessment of the situation in the three districts most affected by the natural disaster.
In collaboration with local government and other partners, UNICEF has distributed essential supplies and will continue to work with partners on the ground to meet the needs of the most vulnerable children and women affected by the effects of the floods.
Despite the fact that people housed in some of the refugee camps and other affected sectors of the population receive essential medicines distributed by the Government of Bihar, in many regions there are not enough doctors. Flooded villages receive supplies from the air, in food parcels dropped from planes contracted by the state government. In many relief camps, local service organizations feed the victims.
Water and environmental sanitation
In most relief camps, refugees can obtain clean water from hand pumps. However, the number of available pumps is insufficient. Some people who have sought refuge on the banks of tributary rivers of the Kosi consume water from them, which could be contaminated.
In the camps, hygiene conditions are generally very poor. Because there are not enough toilets, open defecation is common. Fever and diarrhea have already been reported in some camps.
“UNICEF’s response focuses on the distribution of vital supplies, such as medicines, clean water and sanitation equipment, to prevent and combat disease outbreaks that threaten affected children,” stressed Mr. McCormick.