Report by Bhaskar Pradhan; Bhubaneswar: Unprecedented rains in Kerala have led to loss of life and property due to landslides and severe flooding. More than 350 people have died with most deaths occurring in August, when release of dam waters compounded the crisis and around 7 lakh people are displaced and are living in camps. The rain has now abated and the Indian Metrological Department has withdrawn the red alert from several districts, but the aftereffects are ongoing and critical.
ActionAid India (AAI) is responding to this emergency on a high priority basis, both directly and through our grass roots partner organisations. AAI will also be working closely with the local administrations and contributing towards their efforts.
Our field assessment team has visited areas in and around Wayanad and held consultations with affected communities. Based on their report and discussions with grass roots partners and prominent civil society activists, ActionAid is rolling out interventions in in Alappuzha, Idduki, Pathanamthitta and Wayanad districts. ActionAid will be distributing water tanks, water purifying systems and tablets, food, dry rations, material for temporary shelter and shelter cleaning support. ActionAid will support the recovery process by designing rehabilitation programmes in consultation with affected communities.
ActionAid draws on its long experience of emergency response across India and also in Kerala. In collaboration with the National Fish workers Forum, and with several other community formations and social organisations we responded to the 2004 Indian Ocean Tsunami working with affected communitiesin Kerala and elsewhere, continuing rehabilitation efforts a decade after the disaster. ActionAid has in the recent past responded to the 2015 Tamil Nadu Floods, the India Drought 2016, and the Bihar &NorthEast Floods 2017.
Our emergency response team in Kerala will be led by Esther Maria Selvam, Regional Manager, ActionAid Tamil Nadu Regional Office and Debabrat Patra, Regional Manager, Odisha Regional Office. Both Esther and Debabrat have valuable experience successfully leading emergency response in their regions, across India and globally.
“Emergency situations affect vulnerable communities disproportionately. We need to recognise this reality, and reach out to people living in poverty and exclusion, and amongst them women, children, the elderly and people with disabilities,” said Esther.
“Emergency response, especially relief and rehabilitation support, needs to be community-led. We need to promote the dignity of the affected communities. While providing immediate relief, ActionAid remains committed to a long-term response that includes rehabilitation of affected communities,” said Debabrat.