Racing to get aid to Nepal flood-hit communities

A man carries a child from their flood damaged home in Nepal

21 August 2014: Devastating floods affecting much of Nepal have left thousands of families displaced and vulnerable.

Plan International is working to respond to the growing needs of affected populations, particularly in Banke and Bardiya districts, and is increasingly concerned about pregnant women and newborns, many of whom are sleeping in the open alongside highway and village roads.

This emergency has affected at least 21,000 families and the number is growing every day as we reach communities who have been cut off by floods, damaged roads and landslides,” says Mattias Bryneson, Plan’s country director in Nepal.

“It’s a race against time to get aid to communities who have lost literally everything. Homes have been destroyed, livelihoods lost, schools damaged and the threat of disease outbreaks is growing by the day. These communities were very poor before this disaster – now their homes and livelihoods have literally been washed away.”

Life-saving measures

“Children who were attending school have lost their school uniforms and supplies – and many schools have been damaged or completely destroyed altogether. Getting families back on their feet and supporting children to return to school will be a real priority – although for now we are focusing on life-saving measures like food, tents, blankets and mosquito nets,” adds Bryneson.

More than 298 people have died from the flooding and related hazards which started with heavy rains on 13 August. Although authorities and development agencies are working round the clock to get relief goods to affected communities, many areas remain inaccessible with no power or telecommunications, masking the true extent of this emergency.

Though the rain has subsided, there is a growing fear of disease outbreak due to water contamination and poor sanitation. People have been forced to defecate outdoors and hand water pumps are damaged, limiting the availability of clean and safe drinking water.

Children and families a priority

“The health and protection of children and families must be a priority,” says Bryneson.

“Too many pregnant women, new mothers and their newborns are living in temporary shelters or even alongside roads, with extreme safety risks from disease-carrying mosquitos, contaminated water and a lack of personal security. Many health posts units have also been damaged – we are working with the government and local district disaster management committees to make sure that those who most need help get it.”

Plan Nepal is appealing for further funds to address the immediate needs of affected children and families through the distribution of health, hygiene and infant kits, mobile health clinics and psychosocial counselling for children and youths, amongst other urgent needs.