Kaushalaya and her family now sleep on the floor of a government school in Kharadi. When floods struck the north Indian province of Uttarakhand a fortnight ago, their house was completely destroyed and in the chaos of evacuating, none of this family of five was able to salvage any belongings.
Of the areas that are still accessible to aid agencies, Kharadi village is one of the worst affected. Many areas have been completely cut off, leaving thousands stranded. Overall, at least 150,000 have been displaced and the numbers are expected to rise: more rain is forecasted in the coming days.
Livelihoods washed away
Many livelihoods have been disrupted or destroyed. Kaushalaya’s husband goes to neighbouring towns in search of work, trying to provide for his wife and three children. So far, they have received a 20kg sack of rice from the government, but still need other nutritious food, toiletries, school materials and clothes.
Then there is the children’s schooling. “Even if the bridge is repaired and the road to the school reopens, how will we arrange around Rs. 1000 [£11] for the monthly educational expenses?” asks Kaushalaya.
Kaushalaya’s is far from being the only family in urgent need of help; sometimes, assistance does not arrive soon enough. We walked around the government school, talking to the temporary inhabitants, trying to find out what families need most after a disaster such as this. A couple told the story of how their one-year-old daughter caught pneumonia. Their village was completely cut off as three bridges were washed away by the floods and they were unable to get her the medical help she needed. Their little girl died.
With fresh downpours expected, the worst-affected children and their families cannot wait much longer. There is an urgent need for food, clean drinking water, blankets, medicines, warm clothes and proper shelter. Save the Children has declared an emergency response and has started delivering emergency supplies including food baskets, supplementary food for children, hygiene kits, buckets, mosquito nets and blankets.
Pradeep and Avinash, Save the Children Rapid Assessment Team