By Dibya Raj Poudel, Nepal Red Cross and Maude Froberg, IFRC
Heavy monsoon rains in Nepal have caused extensive flooding and several landslides throughout the country. More than 225,000 people are affected and 35,000 have been forced to leave their homes. To date, 70 people are confirmed dead and 181 are still missing. The number of casualties is expected to rise. 75 per cent of the displaced population are from the districts of Surkhet, Bardiya and Kailali in the western part of the country.
Roads and bridges have been damaged or destroyed and livestock and crops have been washed away. Over 4,600 houses have been damaged and more than 10,000 partially destroyed. Due to fallen electrical and telecommunication poles, the communication network and electricity supply are greatly restricted and drinking water supply system in the Surkhet valley was also disrupted.
In response, branches of Nepal Red Cross Society have mobilised more than 200 trained volunteers and staff to conduct rapid assessments, assist in search and rescue operations and provide relief services and first aid to affected people. Relief efforts to many scattered and remote areas are seriously hampered due to the continuous rain and impassable roads. Adding to the gravity of the situation is the lack of temporary evacuation centres. Some families are forced to live in the open.
In Sindhupalchok, families are struggling to get by after the massive landslide that struck the district on 2 August. Red Cross volunteers on the ground have managed to help 204 affected families with non-food relief items such as clothes, buckets, tarpaulins, blankets and cooking utensils.
"Since we had a disaster management team at the site of the landslide, we were able to provide families with urgently needed goods. The first relief package was given to a mother of a 2-month-old baby," says Rajendra Rokaha, a member of the Red Cross team in the area.
65 body bags, gloves and masks, hygiene kits, and 100 bottles of Chlorine Solution have also been provided to local authorities in Sindhupalchok. The situation in the area is being closely monitored as the water from the 2.5 kilometre long dam created when the landslide blocked the flow of the river, has not drained out completely. There's still risk of the dam collapsing which may cause flash floods further downstream.
Given the critical situation, the Red Cross is maintaining its Disaster Response Teams on high alert and regular supplies of relief materials have been dispatched to the affected districts.