Last week Oxfam and its partners in Bihar northern India managed to rescue stranded villagers, using 20 small boats they had ready as part of their disaster contingency plan for the flood-prone area. Across South Asia Oxfam has been providing essential water equipment and temporary shelters for people who have lost their homes to flooding.
Ashvin Dayal, head of Oxfam in South Asia, said: “Across the region people are struggling to cope with what is for many the worst flooding in living memory. Millions of the very poorest have lost their homes, their possessions and their livelihoods. Thanks to good preparation we have responded quickly and saved lives but people desperately need our help to get back on their feet again. We are calling on the British public to give whatever they can to help.”
Mr Dayal added: “These floods show how important it is for governments and the international community to be prepared for when disasters strike. Today we are providing emergency aid for those who have lost everything. In the long term we must work with local authorities to help vulnerable people in the flood-prone areas of India, Bangladesh and Nepal to cope with increasingly erratic and unpredictable weather.”
Meanwhile, a Hull woman made homeless by flooding has just returned from an Oxfam fact-finding mission to India. Jenna Meredith, 40, visited Orissa in eastern India, where over 4.5 million people been made homeless by floods in the past month.
Ms Meredith met Indian families who had lost their homes and all of their belongings and many now face hardship as their rice crops had been ruined by the floods. Schools have been damaged and the high waters have stopped children reaching school.
Ms Meredith said: “I have been flooded out and lost everything so I know what it is like for the people in India. But in comparison I feel lucky. I can get on with my life because our government can support the people who’ve lost everything. We can go and buy food from the shops, but the people I’ve met have lost their crops. They haven’t got anything.
“I’ve seen that wherever there are floods or natural disasters, it’s the poorest people who are worst hit. That’s why governments in the UK, India and around the world have to take environmental disasters much more seriously.”
Ms Meredith’s is one of an estimated 35,000 people affected by flooding in Hull. She will be living in temporary accommodation for the next year but others from her home estate of Bransholme are still living in caravans or just in the top floors of their houses.
The public can donate to the Oxfam appeal by logging on to www.oxfam.org.uk , going into any Oxfam shop or calling the appeal hotline on 0870 333 2500.
£10 would buy hygiene kits for five families and £25 would buy a shelter kit.