Nepal Flood Disaster Affects Already Vulnerable Families and Communities
KATHMANDU, Nepal - Devastating floods affecting much of Nepal have left thousands of families displaced and vulnerable, says international children’s development organization Plan International.
Plan 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 that have been cut off by floods, damaged roads, and landslides,” says Mattias Bryneson, Plan International’s Country Director in Nepal.
“It’s a race against time to get aid to communities that have lost literally everything. Homes have been destroyed, livelihoods lost, schools damaged, and the threat of disease outbreak is growing by the day. These communities were very poor before this disaster – now homes and livelihoods have literally been washed away.
“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.”
More than 298 people have died from the flooding and related hazards which started with heavy rains on August 13th. Although authorities and development agencies are working around 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.
“We simply don’t know how many people need urgent assistance in these areas. We are working with local partners and communities to get reliable information but with no clear roads, telecommunications, or power in these regions, access remains a real challenge,” adds Bryneson.
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.
“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.
“For these communities, this disaster will take years to recover from. Plan has worked in many of the affected areas for more than 19 years so we will be working alongside communities on the long road to recovery.”
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, among other urgent needs.
About Plan International USA
Plan International USA is part of the Plan International Federation, a global organization that works side by side with communities in 50 developing countries to end the cycle of poverty for children and their families. Plan works at the community level to develop customized solutions and ensure long-term sustainability. Our solutions are designed up-front to be owned by communities for generations to come and range from clean water and health care programs to education projects and child protection initiatives. For more information, please visit www.PlanUSA.org.