NEW DELHI, India, 16 October 2009 - Flash floods that hit the southern Indian states of Andhra Pradesh and Karnataka earlier this month have damaged almost 300,000 homes and killed over 280 people. These floods were caused by recent heavy rainfall but the situation was compounded by the discharge of water from three dams across the Krishna and Tungabhadra Rivers in Karnataka, which inundated several villages and towns.
The floodwaters that swamped millions of acres of farmland and damaged standing crops of sugarcane, maize, rice and wheat, have now mostly receded in both states. Relief and rescue operations are in full swing and many of the relief camps have now started to close with people returning back to their homes.
Returning home as the floods recede
As the flood waters have now receded from more than 70 per cent of affected villages, people are returning to their homes and have started cleaning the sludge left behind by the flood waters. However, the poorest elements of the population whose homes have been washed away are remaining in the camps.
Local authorities are prioritizing efforts to clear away the sludge that has been left behind, disposing of carcasses and ensuring cleanliness and proper sanitation in affected villages, offices and schools. People remaining in submerged villages are being moved to camps and health camps are being organized to help prevent the outbreak of diseases.
An ongoing response
UNICEF continues to work closely with the Government of India and local authorities to ensure that the rights of children and women, including those from the most marginalized communities, are fulfilled during this crisis.
UNICEF efforts focus on two of the most vulnerable districts in the area affected by the current floods - Kurnool in Andhra Pradesh and Raichur in Karnataka. In Kurnool, the response is concentrated on an area covering 24,000 households of around 120,000 people as well as temporary camps for 1078 families. In Raichur, the UNICEF response is concentrated on 72 relief camps covering 9000 households of around 45,000 people.
Ten thousand collapsible jerry cans and twenty-five 5,000 litre water tanks were earlier supplied in Kurnool and Mahbubnagar districts. UNICEF is now planning to provide two 10 litre jerry cans to each family in the focus areas for safe water storage. Water purification tablets, bleaching powder and family hygiene kits are also being distributed.
Importantly, UNICEF is also helping to spread messages within affected communities on safe water handling and hygiene practices, on diarrhoea management and on the importance of immunization. UNICEF is also providing technical, logistical and monitoring support to local administrations in the affected areas.
To ensure that UNICEF’s ongoing support to the government’s efforts is as effective as possible, a multi-sectoral team is currently visiting affected villages to formulate a long-term strategy for relief and rehabilitation in these areas.
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