Supporting the Flood-Affected in Kerala

Supporting the Flood-Affected in Kerala

In October 2021, heavy rainfall in Kerala caused rivers to swell and flood the surrounding areas. The incessant rainfall led to a considerable rise in the water level of reservoirs and triggered landslides. Roads were swept away, houses were damaged and several villages in hilly areas were cut-off from the roads. Many flood-affected areas were left without electricity and phone connectivity for days.

Oxfam India conducted a Rapid Needs Assessment and responded in coordination with the affected communities, district administrations, Gram Panchayats and Sphere India. Oxfam launched its ‘Kerala Landslide and Flood Response Programme 2021’. Under this, 2771 families received dry rations and relief kits, 23000 safety kits comprising masks and soap were distributed to police stations, fire stations, schools, etc. and 144 wells were treated with dewatering and chlorination.

These are the stories of four families who received relief kits, comprising food and hygiene items, in the districts of Idukki, Alappuzha, Pathanamthitta and Kottayam.

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Thirty-five years old Jobin Jose lives with his parents in the Mukkulam East village in Idukki district. Jobin has liver cancer. The family does not have any source of income. Both father and son are unable to work due to their health issues. The mother has to look after the household and care for her husband and son. They made ends meet with some financial support that they received from the church and their community.

The pandemic adversely affected the already scanty financial support they were receiving. The floods made the family’s situation even worse. While the area where they lived was not heavily impacted by the flash floods and landslides, the community support they were reliant on ended abruptly.

As part of Oxfam’s flood relief programme, Jobin and his parents received food and relief kits, which sustained the family for at least a month. 

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Eighty-three year old Pankajakshi Gopalan belongs to the adivasi community and lives in Kollamula village, in Pathanamthitta district. She is a widow with six daughters. Having suffered an accident, she is no longer able to walk.

She currently resides with one of her younger daughter, whose son is a person with disability. The household’s only source of income is Pankajakshi’s pension. Their financial situation became even more difficult due to the pandemic. They did not have enough money to buy food for the entire family. The landslides of October 2021 damaged Pankajakshi’s family home. Oxfam India’s flood relief initiative helped them during this crisis, under which they received food and relief kits.

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Remya Rajesh, 38-year-old, lives in Kainagiri village in Alappuzha district, with her husband, son and daughter. Her son is a person with disability. The family is classified as Below Poverty Line (BPL).

The Kerala floods of 2018 had partially damaged their house. Remya’s husband is a daily wage worker who had lost his job because of the pandemic. In the floods, the surrounding areas and paddy fields were also damaged, leaving them with no possible source of income. The Kainagiri Gram Panchayat where the family resides was one of the worst affected areas.

Due to the floods and the pandemic taking away their source of income, Remya and her husband were unable to even buy food for the family. Oxfam India’s team stepped in and provided them with food and relief kits.

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Fifty-eight year old Parvathy lives in Koottickal village in the Kottayam district. She is a stomach cancer patient. She lives with her son, daughter-in-law and their two children. The family is dependent on a BPL ration card and an annual income of Rs 15000.

Her son was the only earning member in the family, who could not work due to the lockdown. After the floods, the family was adversely impacted by the landslides, which had cut them off from acquiring necessary resources. They no longer had money either to pay for day-to-day living expenses or for Parvathy’s treatment. Despite help from the community, they were on the brink of starvation.

The food and relief kits provided to them under Oxfam’s flood relief programme helped them immensely. They could finally eat and the women in the family received much-needed sanitary napkins. Since Parvathy is a cancer patient, she needed a high-quality diet – which was provided for with the items in the food kit.

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