The rains are over but the problems aren’t

Jitini Devi Sada in her makeshift home on an embankment in Rampur Malhaniya of Saptari district.

Jitini Devi Sada, originally from Koiladi, now living in a makeshift home in Rampur Malhaniya of Saptari district. Her 14-member family has been sleeping in the tent, since the waters damaged their house. Photo by: Prerana Marasini/Oxfam

“Fourteen of us have been living in this makeshift tent house for a month now”
40-year-old Jitini Devi Sada

Prerana Marasini, Saptari

“I was in the kitchen, ready to serve the meal when the water flooded my house,” recalls Gulab Devi Khand from Sakalpura of Saptari district, “I screamed as the water level rose up to my chin, and my family members and neighbors gathered around to clear the debris that had already been around by the floods.”

The incessant monsoon rains of 2017 affected 32 districts of Nepal creating landslide, inundation, and floods. As per the government data, 159 people died, 29 went missing, and 45 were injured, and 186, 480 houses were either completely or partially damaged.

“Fourteen of us have been living in this makeshift tent house for a month now,” 40-year-old Jitini Devi Sada said while frying fingerling fish on a mud stove, inside a plastic tent, set up on a road built on an embankment in Dalwa of Rampur Malhaniya in Saptari district.

Khaado River swollen by the monsoon rains, inundating settlements. Photo credit: KVS

  

Nepal Army rescuing villagers in Saptari district. Photo credit: KVS

A wooden boat carrying people as the floods inundated villages. Photo credit: KVS

Not very far from her temporary settlement lives Amirka Sada, a 27-year-old mother of seven kids, whose house was also fully damaged by the heavy monsoon rains of August. “Our house was destroyed by the water; we could not even take out our stuff from the house,” Amirka said adding, “We then came here, along with our cattle and goats.” But by that time Amirka’s family had already lost 15 goats, 4 cows and hundreds of kilos of harvested rice and wheat, which was kept in granaries in the ground floor.

While walking on the embankment of Dalwa of Rampur Malhaniya, where about 25 households are still in temporary camps, one can see the areas on both right and left sides the effect of the floods. One side which had already been affected by the water seeping from the Koshi River, is now swollen by the recent floods. Fields are submerged where farmers would be growing staple crops like rice or cash crops like Jute. On the other side, where there were more settlements, the houses and schools have faced the brunt of the monsoon rains—houses have fallen, schools are disrupted, hand pumps are damaged, feed for livestock have gone wasted.

Embankment in Dalwa, Rampur Malhaniya of Saptari district is home to the displaced people. Photo by: Prerana Marasini/Oxfam

Amirka Devi cooking rice in her makeshift home on a river embankment. Photo by: Prerana Marasini/Oxfam                                    

Walking along the embankment where the temporary shelters have been set up, one can see the floods compelled people to defecate openly. People living in the tents also complained of snake bitess and other insects troubling.

“I have killed around 20 snakes already,” said Jugeshwar Ram who has also set up his makeshift home on the embankment. He suffered a loss of rice grown in 0.6 acres (1.5 Bigha) of land, vegetables worth NPR 100,000, two cows and seven goats.

Saptari is one of the major rice producing districts of Nepal but the recent floods have badly affected the agricultural land. Most of the rice fields are now left with thick sand, making it difficult for the farmers to grow rice. The government has already said that the production of rice, for instance, will go down by 40 percent. Furthermore, a lot of irrigation canals have been destroyed.

Problems that have surfaced:

  • Open defecation
  • Contamination of drinking water as most of the hand pumps were submerged in the floods
  • Livestock acquiring diseases like jaundice after consuming contaminated food and water
  • Fertile soil has been swept away and covered with silt
  • Damaged irrigation canals
  • People suffering from diseases

Most of the agricultural land have been now covered by thick sand. Photo by: Prerana Marasini/Oxfam

Oxfam is helping

Oxfam in Nepal categorized this natural disaster as a Category 3 Emergency and provided emergency supplies such as food and drinking water, materials that would be needed to set up temporary shelter and maintain hygiene in dire situations to the most affected population, by coordinating with local-level government bodies and its local partner organizations.

Lalita Devi Mandal, 35-year-old single mother of three kids and heading a family of ten has been running a small shop. She already had loans to clear she took to run the shop and then the floods destroyed her house. “We got rice and other food items when there was no food to eat and no way to cook,” she referred to the support she got from Oxfam and its partner Koshi Victim Society (KVS). “We also got mosquito net to save us from mosquitoes and diseases.”

Oxfam's partner organisation, Koshi Victim Society, providing relief items to the flood-affected people in Saptari. Photo credit: KVS

Oxfam in Nepal has supported more than 5000 families in Saptari, Banke, Rautahat, and Sarlahi with food baskets (Rice-10 kg, Pulse- 1 kg, Oil-1 ltr, salt-1 kg, Nutrela (soy chunks)- 1 Kg); hygiene kits (wo buckets with tap and a mug, towel, water purification tablets, tooth pastes, tooth brushes, bathing soaps, dish washing soaps, soap case, nail clipper, sanitary pads/cloths, ladies undergarments), and shelter kits (2 tarpaulins, ropes, mosquito net), and dignity kits for women (including saree, blouse, petticoat, under garments, torch light, shawl, sanitary napkins).

In the next phase, Oxfam and partners will be supporting the most-affected families through a Recovery Programme that will be targeted towards supporting their livelihood.

If you would like to help the people, affected by the floods, please contribute to: https://donate.oxfam.org.uk/emergency/asiafloods