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India floods

September 2012

Incessant rains over the last few weeks have once again caused flooding in the northeastern state of Assam in India. This is the third wave of floods that have affected the region since June.

Approximately 800,000 people have been affected, 700 villages flooded and hundreds of thousands of people forced to abandon their homes.

Cause of the flooding

Assam floodsThe floods have been caused by exceptionally heavy monsoon rains which have caused the Brahmaputra River and its tributaries to break their banks.

The Brahmaputra is one of the largest river systems in the world flowing through Tibet, India and Bangladesh. It is the lifeline of Assam. Historically the Brahmaputra has been a river infamous for flooding in Assam but this year’s monsoon rains have been particularly heavy.

Effects of the flooding

This recent flooding has affected 800,000 people in Assam forcing thousands of people to flee to relief camps. So far, 700 villages have been submerged, an estimated 34 people have been killed and many others have been forced to seek refuge on rooftops, treetops and embankments.

“Flooding has added to the already existing human agony caused by the on-going ethnic conflict situation in Assam which has forced communities to flee to relief camps across the state,” said Christian Aid’s Regional Emergency Manager for South Asia, Ram Kishan. 

The flood survivors are struggling to get access to food, water and shelter. People have to walk or travel in boats to access safe drinking water as hand pumps have been submerged in the flood waters.

Indeed, many of the people who have returned to their homes after the devastating floods in June and July this year have been forced to return to the embankments once again, thereby pushing them into a poverty spiral.

Other challenges that flood-affected communities are facing include contamination of drinking water and an increased risk of water-borne diseases such as diarrhoea and skin diseases.

Our response

Christian Aid is responding to the floods in the two worst affected districts in Assam - the Dhemaji and Lakhimpur districts.

Christian Aid has released £50,000 for our partners Rural Volunteers Centre (RVC) and Sustainable Environment and Ecological Development (SEEDS) to use to address the immediate water, sanitation and hygiene needs of 131 flood-affected communities in Dhemaji and Lakhimpur.

Christian Aid has also successfully attained €300,000 from the European Community Humanitarian Office funds for humanitarian assistance over the next six months.

RVC and SEEDS are currently distributing hygiene and water testing kits (including water purification tablets, mosquito nets and oral rehydration salts).They are also repairing and constructing community latrines and installing hand pumps. This work should reach approximately 8,000 households (48,000 people)

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