Oxfam gears up emergency response to Gujarat floods

Published: 1 November 2005

International aid agency Oxfam is helping tens of thousands of the worst flood-affected families in Gujarat State, India, following torrential monsoon rain that left 70 per cent of the state under water last week and destroyed or heavily damaged thousands of houses. Approximately 25 million people have been affected.

International aid agency Oxfam is helping tens of thousands of the worst flood-affected families in Gujarat State, India, following torrential monsoon rain that left 70 per cent of the state under water last week and destroyed or heavily damaged thousands of houses. Approximately 25 million people have been affected.

"As the waters begin to recede, the challenge now is to prevent an outbreak of disease. Though the government has done a wonderful job in terms of disposal of debris and carcasses, restoring drinking water supply and distributing chlorine tablets, tens of thousands of people still have no access to clean water or sanitation and the threat of malaria is very great," said Oxfam’s Gujarat Program Manager, Anand Kishore Das. “In Anand and Kheda, for instance, many villages are still under water, threatening public health.”

Baroda, Anand, Kheda and Ahmedabad are the worst affected districts. Water supplies have been contaminated, causing a threat to health. Fields freshly sown with paddy and Bajra (a coarse cereal) have been flooded and thousands of cattle are dead or cannot get adequate fodder. Many people are dependent on agriculture and on animal husbandry to make a living and there is a clear danger of food and fodder shortages and longer-term economic problems as a result of lost livelihoods.

An assessment team from Oxfam traveled to the worst affected areas earlier this week in order to determine the extent of the damage and the level of help needed. Oxfam has begun providing emergency food, clean water and hygiene packs – comprising soap, buckets, mugs, towels, tooth powder and sanitary towels – to 10,000 families in the worst affected areas of Kheda, Baroda and Amreli. Temporary shelter is being provided for 600 families.

In addition, Oxfam is working in conjunction with several local non-government and community organizations which are providing food, hygiene kits, basic domestic utensils and health services to affected communities. With financial assistance from Oxfam, local organizations are also preparing to provide shelter for more than 45,000 families, establish grain and fodder banks, distribute seeds and repair dams to rehabilitate agricultural production.

"Many people have lost everything. The poorest, most of them belonging to tribes or lower castes, had their mud houses washed away and lack documents to claim compensation. Similarly, those who had only one cow or buffalo will find it difficult to go back to earning a living. We will concentrate on helping people most in need with a focus on water and sanitation, public health and temporary shelter,” said Mr Das. “We have also been pro-actively working with the government and other international aid agencies to deliver a coordinated response and assess longer term livelihood restoration and housing needs.”

Contact Information

For more information or interviews contact:
Marlene McIntyre (Australia), Tel: 61 3 9289 9415, or 61 407 515 559, or
Aditi Kapoor (India), Tel: 91 11 52396000 & 91 9810306200 em:
akapoor@oxfam.org.uk