Flooding in India: Worst disaster to hit Jammu and Kashmir region in a century

Emergencies, In the field article written on the 17 Sep 2014

Photo: Abhilash Lahkar/Oxfam

Oxfam is responding to flooding in India that has affected people in 2,500 villages in the Jammu and Kashmir region — the worst natural disaster to hit the region in 100 years.

Constant rain and landslides have wreaked havoc in the North Indian state. 450 villages are completely submerged and a further 300 remain cut off.

Speaking from Jammu, where 72 people were reported to have died in the flooding, Oxfam India Humanitarian Program Manager Bipul Borah said humanitarian needs in the area were high. More than 18,000 people had been displaced from Rajouri and a further 15,000-16,000 from Poonch.

“Entire villages have been washed away in Poonch,” Bipul said.

“We found that in some areas of Jammu, not only floods but landslides have destroyed entire villages.

“With water levels receding it is time to launch a massive effort in ensuring supply of clean water and good sanitation.”

Hundreds of thousands of people are now in need of urgent humanitarian assistance.

“We hear from the volunteer support groups on the ground that hundreds of thousands of people are living in makeshift camps and in desperate need of help. Those affected have stressed on the urgent and continuous need for relief supplies like drinking water, food, shelter, blankets and sanitation facility.” Bipul said.

Oxfam is working in close coordination with all other aid agencies across the country and on the ground in Jammu and Kashmir to extend support. Priorities include clearing debris, waste management, emergency shelter against the incoming winter and essential items; including blankets, utensils, heaters, solar lights and cash transfers for selected households.

With only 65 days before snow is forecast in the valley, the race against time has already begun.

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