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ACT Alliance Alert
Bihar faces Flooding after Nepal Landslide
Geneva, 4 August 2014
1. Brief description of the emergency and impact
More than 400,000 people in Bihar face the risk of flooding after a landslide that killed at least nine people in neighbouring Nepal on Sunday. The landslide triggered by heavy rains left scores of people missing and created a mud dam blocking the Sunkoshi River, which runs into Bihar as the Kosi River. The fear is that, as Nepal tries to blast its way through the landslide to clear the mud and water, it will unleash a torrent of water across densely populated Bihar. Now it is expected that, around 425,000 people could be affected by the floods. Hence, fear of heavy flooding looms large in the state.
The Kosi River posed a major problem for both India and Nepal, when a breach occurred in the dam in 2008. Water in huge volumes submerged swathes of land, affecting more than 2 million people in Bihar and killing more than 500.
2. Why is an ACT response needed?
It is foreseen that the water from the upper catchment area of Nepal, coupled with torrential rains would not only cause damage to property, and possessions, standing crops, communication and transport mechanisms but devastate normal living conditions and the livelihood of some of the most vulnerable people, many of whom do not have the resources to cope with this emergency and get back on their feet without external help. The national and state governments are vigilant to the situation, but timely response to this calamity in the scattered locations might pose challenges.
3. National and international response
More than 44,000 people across seven districts of Bihar have already been evacuated as demanded by the State Disaster Management Unit, Bihar. There are 117 relief camps set up in the region so far. In some places the authorities have had to force people to leave their homes to ensure their lives are not in danger.
The Indian Prime Minister, currently visiting Nepal, has expressed concern over the situation in Bihar and said all possible assistance should be made available. The Home Ministry said in a statement that while the amount of water that had flowed downstream so far was not alarming, the flow could increase suddenly at any time. Indian government officials said on Saturday that water levels were already above the danger mark.
4. ACT Alliance response
ACT India forum members – Lutheran World Service India Trust (LWSIT), Church’s Auxiliary for Social Action (CASA) and the United Evangelical Church in India (UELCI) are assessing the situation very closely along with their national networks like Sphere India and Inter Agency Group, Bihar. Should the situation so demand, an RRF or preliminary appeal will be prepared through co-ordinated efforts. The immediate needs among flood affected families are: dry rations, non-food items, temporary shelter materials and clothing.
5. Planned activities
The ACT Alliance members have decided to intervene through the Rapid Response Fund (RRF) or an appeal, should the flood situation escalate. The initial response is likely to focus on life-saving activities
No major constraints are foreseen yet. However, the magnitude of the disaster might prevent easy access to the affected areas.
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