September 3 2008

Food and shelter for Indian flood victims

SOS Children's Villages relief camps in Purnia (India) provide care to flood victims

03/09/2008 - SOS Children's Villages has started providing food to 1600 starving people at two camps established at Purnia, one of the places hardest hit by the flooding in Bihar state in India after heavy monsoon rains.


Photo: REUTERS/Rupak De Chowdhuri, courtesy of
A woman carrying her child in India's flood-affected eastern state of Bihar - Photo: REUTERS/Rupak De Chowdhuri, courtesy of
The camps can cater to the needs of up to 2,000 people, providing adequate shelter and sanitary facilities. Generators are pressed into service to supply power. People flock to the camps in large numbers. "I marooned for five days with my children and family members without food. A rescue team took us here and we had a good lunch. I don't know when I will be able to return to my home," said Ramsharan Yadava, 55, with a choking voice. Many people in the camps have similar stories to tell.

"We are providing cooked food, like hot rice and pulses with green vegetables," says a co-worker. "We have ready-made packs comprising flat rice, sugar, salt, candle, biscuits, cloths, match box, soap and baby food (tinned milk) especially for infants we make available," he adds.

SOS Children's Villages relief camps are being organized in school buildings in Belouri in Purnia with active support by the local administration. The administration has also made available a big space at Aadrash Middle & High School and assigned 20 government employees to help manage the camps.

A team of doctors visited the camp and diagnosed people. They provided medicines to victims struck down by fever and diarrhoea.

Photo: SOS Archives
Bihar State health minister Ashwini Choubey visiting one of the camps - Photo: SOS Archives

Government officials say that more than 275,000 flood victims have been lodged in more than 250 relief camps in the Supaul, Madhepura, Saharsa and Araria districts. The swelling numbers of refugees in unhygienic camps, combined with weather conditions pose a higher risk of outbreak of diseases according to a warning issued by the UN. According to government estimates, about 90,000 people might be still marooned and in dire need of immediate rescue. The official death toll is 90, but actual figures will only emerge after the water has receded.