Direct Relief is providing emergency humanitarian aid to areas in India and Nepal experiencing the worst flooding in 50 years. More than 3 million people are in the flooded areas.
Annual flooding caused by the monsoon season, which begins in June, was compounded when the Koshi Dam in Southern Nepal broke on August 18, causing extreme flooding downstream in the Bihar region of northern India. In Nepal, an estimated 85,000 people are displaced and living in schools and colleges. In the Bihar region of India, which is largely under water, hundreds of rural villages have been destroyed, 550,000 people have been displaced, 400,000 await rescue, and 3 million have been affected. Bihar State’s Chief Minister Nitish Kumar anticipates that the crisis will likely remain serious for several weeks.
Direct Relief is equipping medical teams and is working with longtime partner organizations that report a rising incidence of gastroenteritis, respiratory infections, skin infections, fevers, and diarrheal disease, which health workers report is becoming an epidemic in the crowded camps due to poor sanitation.
Waterborne diseases are among the greatest health concerns during floods, as floodwaters disrupt sanitation systems and spread contaminated water. Standing water harbors parasites, bacteria, and mosquitos that transmit malaria, all of which pose a significant health threat, especially to children, the elderly, and those with weakened immune systems.
Direct Relief is tapping its existing $45 million inventory and has contacted corporate donors to help supply needed medicines including antibiotics, oral rehydration solutions, antidiarrheals, wound-care supplies, vitamins and nutritional supplements (many people are malnourished), and medical supplies.
Our partners in India and Nepal have mobilized medical teams to provide care to the victims of flooding.
Direct Relief’s partner in India, the Amrita Institute of Medical Sciences and Research Centre (AIMS) in Cochin, Kerala State, has deployed more than 20 staff, an ambulance, and the state-of-the-art telemedicine van that Direct Relief purchased in 2007 to help treat people in remote-area shelters. Medicine stores, already depleted before the floods, are at critically low levels. “For us to meet the demand, we will be needing help desperately,” reported Dr. Raghavendra of AIMS.
In Nepal, our longstanding partner Family Health International (FHI) provides health services in its clinics, which normally focus on HIV/AIDS and reproductive health. It supports more than 40 local organizations and healthcare providers in country.