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Kerala floods: food aid for families affected

A local aid agency supported by Islamic Relief is on the ground in flood-ravaged Kerala, distributing food to families affected by the worst floods in the southern Indian state since 1924. 

The past week’s devastating floods have already claimed 325 lives. We are working with a local partner who have started food distributions in Wayanad, one of the most-affected districts. An additional emergency flood response team, with many years’ experience of dealing with floods in India, is on its way.  

The situation is very fluid and changing every hour. In the last 24 hours almost all the districts of Kerala have been affected by the floods and it is estimated that almost 80% of the state is under water.  It is also reported that 80 of its dams are now open after being overwhelmed.

More than 300,000 people are living in official relief camps run by the state.   

Islamic Relief’s Head of Programme, Sibghatullah Ahmed said: 

“Many people are still stuck in their houses waiting for search and rescue teams. I can’t even begin to explain how bad these floods are. Thousands are trapped on the rooftops of their homes and more heavy rain is expected over the weekend. The state-run emergency relief camps are already overflowing, but thousands have no way of reaching them. So many people have lost everything they own and are desperate. 

“Our partner has worked in Kerala state since 1992 and have never seen anything like this. Kerala is not a flood-prone state. In fact Palakkad district, which has been hugely affected by the floods, suffered from drought in 2016 and 2017.”  

Emergency food packs are being distributed to the most affected households in Wayanad district. At the moment access is a major issue and many areas remain inaccessible.  

 Sibghatullah Ahmed added:  

“The priority now is for the government to rescue people and then there will be a massive amount of work to do removing debris, sludge and overall solid waste management. We urgently need to distribute food and clean drinking water and then the water systems will also need to be restored. There will be massive health needs and we need to be prepared for an outbreak of water and vector-borne diseases. 

 “However, at the moment it’s a real challenge to be able to access the area and the situation is changing from minute to minute. We are working alongside the local government and other NGOs to assess how we can all respond in the most effective way. The state of Kerala is one of the better prepared states of India and no aid efforts will be successful without coordination with the government. 

“This is an emergency situation and Islamic Relief is acting as quickly as we can, but we also need to look at long-term recovery and rehabilitation. In most of the recent floods in India, the government, civil society and donors reached out in the emergency phase but then failed to support the affected communities in the long term, leaving them helpless. This is particularly important for those people who were already marginalised and chronically poor.”

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