Deadly Floods Devastate Southern India in 2009

Heavy rains have led to flash floods in Kurnool district of Andhra Pradesh

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Heavy rains have led to flash floods in Kurnool district of Andhra Pradesh

On the 30th September and 1st October 2009, flash floods hit Andhra Pradesh and Karnataka in the South of India. Heavy rains left at least 230 people dead and millions homeless as of October 5, reported the BBC. Ironically, just a week before, the same region was suffering from the worst drought in 60 years.

In Andhra Pradesh alone, the disaster affected 5 districts and 1.4 million people, and 15 districts were affected in Karnataka. The two worst hit districts were Bagalkot in Karnataka, and Kurnool in Andhra Pradesh.

When Bharathi, 15, came home from her hostel during Eid holidays, she did not imagine that she would not be going back to school. Her home is in Kotapalli Mandal of Kurnool district, Andhra Pradesh, where most of the 180 houses have been destroyed by the floods. Bharathi said: “Whenever someone comes to my village to help flood survivors, I always look forward to them to provide me some support so that I can go back to school. But here everyone is offering food and other things. I am in class 10, and this was a crucial year for me. My father is a daily wage worker. He has to look after a family of five. He can’t afford to buy me books and uniform again. We have has lost everything. It had taken a lot of effort from me and my family to send me to school. It seems all our efforts are going to go in vain”.

Oxfam South India Flood Response 2009:

The Oxfam India response covered 9000 families in Andhra Pradesh and 4000 families in Karnataka; approximately 60, 000 men, women and children. Of 61 villages covered, particular focus was on 12 of the most vulnerable. The programme was implemented over 3 months - October to December 2009. The purpose was to ensure that affected communities had immediate access to basic needs to safeguard themselves against public health risks, and reduce avoidable mortality. The response was mainly aimed at improving access to safe water and sanitation, and promotion of public health.

1. Safe Water

In the first phase of the relief programme the focus was on supply of safe drinking Water, household treatment of water, and restoration of damaged facilities. A total number of 1.2 million Aquatabs were distributed, and their use demonstrated. This was done through door-to-door visits as well as through common distribution and demonstration process. Restoration work was conducted in the most vulnerable villages.

2. Public Health

The second phase focused on protecting environmental sanitation and hygiene, providing safe living conditions that would prevent the spread of disease. At this stage Hygiene kits were distributed. Village cleaning drives were supported with wage incentive. A total of 155 temporary latrines and 60 bathing cubicles were constructed.

Awareness campaigns included wall writings, wall paintings, street plays, rallies on issues such as village cleaning, construction of soak pits, solid waste management pits, installation of dustbins and ongoing residual chlorine check.

3. Temporary Shelters

Affected households salvaged material to erect their own structures. To the most needy, 1400 temporary shelter kits were provided. Oxfam engineers helped construct 10 prototypes for the affected community to replicate from. The prototypes were allocated to women headed households.

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