India/Nepal: Emergency relief after the floods Order of Malta - Permanent Observer Mission


India/Nepal: Emergency relief after the floods

A Nepalese resident shows how high the water got in his village.

Medical treatment and clean water for flood-affected population.

Tens of thousands of Indians have been displaced due to heavy flooding in late June. Photo: REUTERS/Anindito Mukherjee

The heaviest monsoon rains in the last 80 years have hit the Indian state of Uttarakhand, leaving more than 800 dead, thousands missing and destroying entire villages. The floods also affected the population across the border in western Nepal, where more than 1,700 families have been displaced. Malteser International is providing emergency relief in the region.

Together with its local partner, the Catholic Health Association of India (CHAI) – one of India’s largest civil society organizations in the health sector with over 3,410 member institutions across the country – Malteser International will provide medical services to flood victims in 15 villages in Rudraprayag and Uttarakashi districts, and supply 10,000 people with drinking water.

“Most of the survivors are in poor health, having fought cold, hunger and dehydration,” says Daniel Bergfeld, who is coordinating the relief activities for Malteser International. “The continuous rainfall and poor sanitary conditions have highly increased health risks such as diarrhea, skin diseases and stomach ailments.” As much of the local health infrastructure has been damaged or destroyed, CHAI will set up health camps with doctors, nurses and social workers in 15 of the region’s most affected villages to provide medical treatment, including free checkups and medicines. The emergency relief measures are supported by Germany’s Relief Coalition (ADH).

The village of Tigra in western Nepal after the flood waters receded

In Nepal’s Bardiya district, where Malteser International has been conducting a Disaster Risk Reduction project in flood-prone areas, prevention measures before the monsoon floods helped prevent greater damage to the water supply and protect village residents. Elevated hand pumps had been installed in the villages, so residents could have access to clean water even during and after the monsoon floods. During the flooding on June 18, they also served as a safe haven: several residents in two villages took refuge on the platform of the elevated hand pumps, waiting for rescue boats to arrive.