Rapid Needs Assessment for Unprecedented Floods in Uttar Pradesh

Rapid Needs Assessment for Unprecedented Floods in Uttar Pradesh

Context and Background

Unprecedented Floods in the state of Uttar Pradesh during the late monsoon season this year has impacted many lives and livelihoods. Among the most affected areas were the districts in eastern Uttar Pradesh including Varanasi, Balia and Gazipur which witnessed the wrath of the river ganga in the last month. One of the prime areas which was also in the news was the area between Ghagra and Ganga in Balia District wherein atleast 102 villages were reported have been impacted out of which 93 were temporarily marooned. A total of 272776 people have been reported to be affected in an area of 990 hectares metres spreading across more than hundred villages. A total of 34 buildings were reported to have been damaged among which nine were kutcha mud houses and two were public infrastructures.

In Bairiya Tehsil of Balia District alone, a total of 16 villages are impacted and nine of them have been marooned by the communities which are now either in relief camps or in any alternative accommodation. Fourteen buildings are reported to have been damaged in the blocks among which two are government buildings. It is reported that most of the vulnerable areas on the closest banks of Ganga has been washed away completely because of the collapse of the Dubey Chapra Ring Dam thereby swallowing the three villages of Dubey Chapra, Uday Chapra and Gopalpur. As the water level of the Ganga began to rise further, other villages like Prasad Chapra and Pandeypur were also submerged under water.

As per the reports from the tehsil, it was found that villages like Kodraha Noubrar (Bhagwan Tola) has been completely cut off from the other mainland and people are communicating using the boats provided by the administration. Citizens in the villages of Keharpur, Dubey Chapra, Gopalpur, Uday Chapra, Daya Chapra, Prasad Chapra, Pandeypur, Jagdeva, Tengrahi, Nouranga, Bahuara, Rampur, Shivpur and Kupir Diyar have been rescued by the administration in safe places. There are relief camps being built on the road side and in other areas with facilities for sanitation and health.

As of now, the administration has rescued 20230 people in relief camps and 19556 in other safe areas in Balia. In the most affected tehsil of Bairiya a total of 19230 people have been given shelter in relief camps and other 19556 have been rescued to other safe places. Along with this a total of 14224 big animals and 1412 smaller livestock have been impacted in the district out of which 2387 have undergone treatments and 5558 have been vaccinated. In Bairiya block a total of 3970 big livestock and 1410 smaller ones have been impacted. Only 535 have been provided treatment and 1287 have been vaccinated.

In some relief camps, animals and human beings are sharing the same shelter which may turn into a health nightmare in the coming days because proper hygiene is not being maintained. In Dubey Chapra animal bodies are also found lying on the banks. There is no proper waste disposal mechanism as human excreta and other forms of wastes were found lying here and there near the banks thereby contaminating the nearby areas among which are some schools. In the same area some houses and drinking water source are also completely submerged. As of now, the only safe passage are through boats being provided by the administration.

Government initiatives

  • Government initiatives in Varanasi was found to be prominent in Saralpur and Rasulgarh. Some initial reliefs were being provided. However due to late action by the NDRF, one child lost his life due to drowning,
  • In Balia and Gazipur District, most families from villages which were submerged are reported to have been rescued and provided relief. 25 Motor Boats, 64 big boats and 87 small boats have been provided by the tehsil administration.
  • Apart from rescue, the government has almost completed the process of relief distribution in the affected areas.
  • The administration is also trying to resolve the issues related to the Ring Dam in Balia District and rehabilitate the inhabitants whose houses have been completely damaged in the recent floods.

 CBO & individual efforts:

Since there were no local level organisation working exclusively in humanitarian assistance in the visited areas, initial information on the floods could not be retrieved. However with the support from our partner organization Poorvanchal Grameen Vikash Sansthan , local NGO’s and few community leaders the assessment was carried out satisfactorily. No assessment on the current flood situation was carried out before Oxfam India’s Intervention.

Main objectives of the assessment included:

  • To conduct Rapid Needs Assessment of the Flood Situation in some selected areas in Varanasi, Balia and Gazipur in Uttar Pradesh
  • To assess the components of WASH (Water, Sanitation and Hygiene) in the blocks most devastated
  • To understand the condition of shelter and toilets in the area
  • To understand the Emergency food security & Livelihood situation of flood affected community.

Assessment Geography

The assessment was carried out in the flood impacted districts of Varanasi, Gazipur and Balia by Oxfam India representative with the support from the local NGOs. Some important sites were visited in Varanasi. We interacted with some community leaders and people who were affected by the floods. In Balia District, we interacted with the officials from the District Disaster Management Authority, SDM and Tehsildaar. We also interacted with some of the frontline workers from important departments. Along with this we visited relief camps and communities which are either completely or partially submerged into water. The Tehsil office is 20 Km away from Balia District headquarter and some of the affected villages had to visited on foot. We visited the relief camps on the sides of the road and also went to assess the components of WASH in many parts of the district. We also interacted with the volunteers engaged in the relief distribution at the UP-Bihar Border and interacted with the people on their perception and needs. Apart from this, we also visited some of the places as suggested to us by the Block Officials in Bairiya. In Gazipur, we visited only few of the community sites but due to unavailability of any support for information, we could not retrieve much information. We were supported by all required information whichever was available along with other administrative support as and when required.

Assessment Methodology

The entire assessment was done in qualitative manner. With the support from the local CBO’s and co-operation from the tehsil office (wherever possible), the assessment was carried. Vulnerable and affected sites were visited. Information on various important Parameters were collcted from government sources, civil society groups and community people in villages and relief camps.  While information at the District and Block level was easily available, getting exact information on the villages was a severe challenge. However most important affected villages were visited and through community interactions, information on WASH, shelter and livelihood was retrieved through proper informed consents.

Key Findings

(A) Water, Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH)

Water

Access: Few of the water sources have been damaged completely and are still submerged under water but there are arrangements being made through community efforts for alternative water source. Lift Pumps installed by Oxfam India in 2016 in few places are being used by the community. However even those pumps are vulnerable spots which might impact the water quality of the areas in the future.

Quality: The quality of water in the assessed sites in both Varanasi and Balia are subjected to contamination like high arsenic and fluoride contaminants. In Balia District, the government has provided 2.7 lakhs Chlorine tablets in different parts of the district. In the most affected Bairiya Block only 2720 chlorine tablets have been provided to the various communities. The quality of water is yet an unaddressed area which requires long term solution. The availability of Chlorine tablets in some vulnerable areas is quite unsatisfactory. Moreover, open defacement and less awareness on health and Hygiene is a serious concern. The entire Block of Bairiya and some parts of Gazipur requires post Flood assessment on drinking water quality. 

Quantity:  Drinking water is a severe challenge in the area even in the pre disaster days and although the administration has tried to address the availability of water, in some areas like Gopalpur, Pandeypur and Dubey Chapra, people have been facing challenges in getting adequate amount of fresh water. At this moment however provision of drinking water is being ensured though local endeavour and community support.

Sanitation

Sanitation is a severe issue in the entire district. Open defecation were observed in many areas in the communities even by the banks of the Ganga and Ghagra. This has also impacted some of the otherwise good source of drinking water in those areas near the ring dam. The Government provided mobile toilets are although functional to some sense but are maintained very poorly. There are no proper hygiene kits available in the toilets. Also, since animals and human beings are kept in almost in one area, there are chances that humans might be infected with some diseases. After the Floods, a through sanitation must be ensured and some important sources of drinking water has to be decontaminated which also includes the model source of drinking water installed by Oxfam India.

Hygiene

No proper hand washing was observed and women affected from flood require more awareness in maintaining proper hygiene.

Health

Among the major health concerns found in the region are diarrhoea, fever and skin ailments especially among the children and elderly. Women have also reported to have faced problems related to stomach and general weakness. People of Saralpur and Rassolgarh in Varanasi had difficult accessing health services during the peak moments of the flood. 

(B) Shelter

Shelter is a huge issue in the community at Varanasi, Gazipur and Balia. Villages in Varanasi are recovering but few households are still in relief camps as their houses are completely submerged.  People are found to be constructing their shelter temporarily in Villages where water is receding. However, all shelters in the areas near the dam are still under water. Along with this some schools have completely been non-functional due to the floods.

(C) Emergency Food Security & Vulnerable Livelihoods (EFSVL)

Social Structure: People of different social backgrounds have been impacted by the floods. However, the economically impoverished and socially vulnerable groups are the ones who have suffered the most. Elderly population did not receive adequate attention from the administration and most services were confined to immediate relief and lifesaving. People in the areas are either engaged in agricultural farms or as labourers in the local markets. Most of the assets of the people living in mud houses have been damaged and resettling would be a heavy challenge for them. Children from the economically marginalized families have lost their entire school belongings and the area is vulnerable to child labour and other forms of exploitation. There are however organization working in the field of child development who have been actively watching on such aspects. The local economy has been shaken partially as many people have lost their livelihood temporarily. However, as the water is receding, some of them are seen working for their daily wage. In other households which are economically better, normalcy in livelihood is being reported.

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