South Asia floods: “Our children cannot resist hunger”

Geneva, August 18, 2017. As massive flood waters sweep through the countries of Nepal, India, and Bangladesh, CARE is assisting affected people in all three countries with relief supplies. CARE teams have dispatched food, water, shelter materials, hygiene kits and household supplies to areas where people sought shelter and safety. Overall, approximately 16 million people have been affected across Nepal, India and Bangladesh.

“In Bangladesh 4.8 million people in 26 districts are affected by the floods. The country’s situation is unprecedented, perhaps the worst in over 100 years. And it is likely to worsen with more places to get inundated soon”, says Zia Choudhury, Country Director for CARE Bangladesh. “People have taken refuge in government shelters with many more marooned on rooftops, highlands and any other raised structures. Food, safe drinking water and medicine have become a critical needs.” As water is moving downstream from India and Nepal, more districts are expected to be flooded in the coming days. Already, river levels in Bangladesh are higher than usual during a monsoon season and CARE teams prepare for a large scale emergency, distributing shelter materials and food to people who have lost everything.

In India, heavy rains have triggered massive floods in several states. “The situation in the villages in the state of Assam is extremely grim. Embankment of rivers in many areas have been breached forcing over 400 families to stay in extremely unhygienic conditions. Most people have lost everything including important documents. Schools are submerged under eight feet of water. Overall, the flood survivors are very worried and in dire need of support”, says Ravikant Upadhyay, Team Leader, Assam Flood Response, of CARE India. CARE India teams are supporting 3,000 people in Assam with dignity and hygiene kits. More support, especially clothes for women, sanitary items and special care for pregnant women and lactating mothers is urgently needed. As women have to venture out long distances to find dry places to defecate, they face a high risk of abuse and violence.

CARE teams in Nepal started to distribute relief supplies and will be reaching over 5,600 people with critical food, household items, shelter materials and supplies for mothers of new-born babies in the coming days. “We were neck deep in the water in our village and we have not much to eat at the moment. We can resist hunger but our children cannot”, says Binod Chaudhary, a 32 year old man from Kailali district.

Climate change is magnifying and exacerbating the current flooding in South Asia. Monsoon rains are becoming more extreme and precipitation patterns are changing, which is simultaneously increasing the prevalence of poverty – CARE will scale up our response to this devastating flooding during the weeks ahead while also continuing to work on the longer term strengthening of the  communities to withstand future shocks.