Responding to India’s Devastating Floods

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The Indian states of Jammu and Kashmir have been affected by the worst flooding the region has seen in 60 years. Handicap International and its local partner rescued more than 3,000 people trapped by flood waters and distributed aid to the most vulnerable victims.

The torrential rain which hit the country in the beginning of September has already affected more than 10 million people. Landslides and flooding have washed away roads and bridges, destroyed homes, drowned crops, and contaminated drinking water. Of the 5,642 villages impacted, an initial assessment found that 800 were completely flooded and about 83,000 houses were damaged. More than 543,000 people have been forced to leave their homes.

Handicap International which has been working in Jammu and Kashmir since 2009, distributed grain, drinking water, medicine, and blankets with its local partner Hope Disability Centre. “With support from local volunteers, we also rescued thousands of people who were stranded arranged using 10 wooden and three motorized boats,” says Ahyan Shandilya, Handicap International’s Coordinator for rehabilitation and health in India.

"This situation is a genuine disaster,” says Ahyan. “Despite recurrent flooding, the population was not prepared for such heavy flooding. From the very first week the rains hit, everything was cut off—no phone connection, no internet, nothing."

In the last few days the rain has stopped. Almost all of the telecommunications and electricity networks are back up and running and many schools have re-opened. However, as Ahyan stresses: "The water is still stagnating and it’s vital to ensure proper sanitary conditions to prevent the outbreak of disease. The needs remain immense."