September 2, 2014
Recent flooding in western Nepal has killed 123 people and displaced 33,594 families from their homes. Handicap International, which has been present in Nepal since 2000, launched a relief operation to assist victims of the disaster.
Although flooding is a regular occurrence in Nepal, current climatic conditions have caused certain waterways to be diverted, leading to landslides and flooding in areas not previously identified as at-risk by the government. As a result, people living in these areas are not well informed about how to protect themselves in the face of a natural disaster. “People heard the rumbling of rushing water in the distance, but they did not realize what it was until it was too late,” said Sarah Blin, Handicap International’s Field Program Director in Nepal.
Many families have been displaced and temporarily accommodated in schools and makeshift shelters, where hygiene conditions are extremely poor. Stocks of government food and other aid have already run out. Many families want to return home, but their farmland is covered in mud and there is a risk of further flooding until the rainy season ends.
“Displacement turns people’s lives upside down,” said Blin. “The situation is even more stressful for people with disabilities, the elderly, and women whose husbands are away working in other countries.”
Operating out of Dang district, Handicap International has been distributing non-food items like mattresses, blankets, clothing, and hygiene kits to the most vulnerable families. The organization will also provide disaster victims with psychological support to help them overcome trauma.