Oxfam internationally today launched a NZ$2.5 million appeal as it scales up its work to help almost 500,000 people affected by floods in India, Bangladesh and Nepal, desperately needing assistance.
The money will be spent on delivering food, emergency shelter, hygiene items and clean water and safe sanitation.
Altogether 20 million people in India, Bangladesh and Nepal have been affected by flooding in the current monsoon, forcing many from their homes.
Last week Oxfam and its partners in Bihar, northern India, rescued stranded villagers, using 20 small boats they had ready as part of their disaster contingency plan for the flood-prone area. Across South Asia Oxfam has been providing essential water equipment and temporary shelters for people who have lost their homes to flooding.
Ashvin Dayal, head of Oxfam in South Asia, said: “Across the region people are struggling to cope with what is for many the worst flooding in living memory. Millions of the very poorest have lost their homes, their possessions and their livelihoods. Thanks to good preparation we have responded quickly and saved lives but people desperately need our help to get back on their feet again. We are calling on the public to give whatever they can to help."
Dayal added: "These floods show how important it is for governments and the international community to be prepared for when disasters strike. Today we are providing emergency aid for those who have lost everything. In the long term we must work with local authorities to help vulnerable people in the flood-prone areas of India, Bangladesh and Nepal to cope with increasingly erratic and unpredictable weather.”
Oxfam New Zealand’s Executive Director Barry Coates says governments around the world have to take environmental disasters much more seriously.
“Scientists tell us that climate change is likely to increase the probability of extreme weather events,” Coates says. “When floods or natural disasters strike, it’s more often than not the poorest people who are worst hit.”