The quiet disaster
Monsoonal floods in Assam, in the remote Northeast of India, have affected some 2.4 million people since late June, and yet the media – both national and international – have remained fairly quiet. ACTED and partners are carrying out an assessment in one of the worst hit regions.
Meet Mr. Monuj. His house was completely washed away when one of the massive embankments protecting his house and village broke under the pressure of the swollen Brahmaputra River. His house and all his belongings were washed away together with another 8 households and heavily damaging a further six in this village. He is a farmer, and his paddy fields which had been cultivated and were due for harvesting, were inundated and have been buried under tons of sand and silt carried by the river.
He now lives, together with other families, in a makeshift shelter on a part of the embankment which remains; this is the only area raised above the floodwaters. He currently works as boatman, ferrying people across the new gulf of water which has been created from the floods, making 100 Rupees per day (about 1.50 Euros), and is already looking forward to what he will do once the embankment is rehabilitated by the government. This has become a way of life for families here as the rivers regularly flood – but this is the worst since 2004 as it is the first time the embankment broke.
Monuj lives in Majuli Island, the largest fresh water island in the world and one of the badly hit regions in Assam from these floods. Aside from an ACTED assessment team on the ground in Majuli and government relief forces, no humanitarian agencies are here, probably due to the difficulties in access: Majuli is a distant drive and boat trip from the district capital in Jorhat.
ACTED is conducting assessments in the Luhit Puriya Gram Panchayat, where Monuj’s village is located and which has fifteen heavily damaged villages, with urgent needs in sanitation and water source rehabilitation, as well as longer term requirements for communal road repairs and the construction of flood resistant housing. ACTED and local partner NEICORD are coordinating with local authorities to target the most vulnerable populations that were affected by the floods and plan to start operations soon to assist these communities.