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Oct 2, 2017

A Long Road Home

Naureen Khan & Humanitarian Team, Oxfam India

2017 has been a year of extreme rainfall in India and the damage caused by flooding has taken a toll on life and property. Even though the water has receded, lakhs of people are still struggling to cope in the flood-hit states of Assam, Bihar, Uttar Pradesh, Manipur and Gujarat. Guneswari Das has been one of them.

After the floods hit her village in Lakhimpur district, Assam, Guneswari now lives in a small makeshift shelter alone on the embankment of river Ranga.  Guneswari is a widow and both her son live in Andhra Pradesh to earn their livelihood.

“When we heard about the floods, most of the villagers started moving their valuables to a higher embankment. I did the same but by the fourth round to my house, the river had broken and water started to flood. I waded in waist deep water and reached the embankment. The embankment broke at night and in no time the entire village was submerged under water,” says Guneswari.

Guneswari slept on the embankment with no shelter for several nights. She was too old and tired to build any shelter. Neither could she cook because there was no firewood available. But soon Guneswari with many villagers received some relief items. “With the tarpaulin provided by Oxfam, I was able to make a home and a bed. They also gave us food and clean water. I also use the Oxfam bucket to store water.”

As the water receded, Guneswari went back to see the condition of her house. “The flood washed away everything. My valuables, stored grains and even the traditional weaving machine which was my source of income. I lost 16 ducks, 3 goats and 5 Supari trees. I was left with few utensils, clothes and two goats.” 

Guneswari had to travel a long distance to defecate in the nearby river. The river was contaminated as a result many in the village were suffering from various skin and health problems including Guneswari. For the past three months, Guneswari is surviving with the relief item Oxfam provided her but she questions for how long would she have to live this way? 

Oxfam has built 12 toilets in Assam and continues to help people cope with the disaster. “The toilet nearby my temporary shelter has been a saviour for many of us. But my worries have not ended. I have to rebuild my house and save myself from the approaching winter.” 

Over 33.5 lakh people have been affected due to the devastating floods in Assam. Many people like Guneswari are struggling to survive the aftermath of this disaster.
Oxfam is continuously working on the ground to help survivors recover their livelihood and live better lives. We are building toilets, hand pumps and tube wells for safe consumption of water, conducting health promotion acitivites for communities to adapt healthier lives, distributing relief kits and conducting skill development workshops to help recover their livelihood. We will conitnue to work till people affected by floods stand back on their feets. Donations from generous individuals like will make our work and their progress possible.

Generous individuals like you have helped us in providing the following to the people of Assam: 

1. Food items to 250 Households.
2. 5,800 Hygiene Kits and Shelter Kits.    
3. Public health promotion activities in camps.
4. Eight water filters, four tube wells and eight hand pumps have been installed in schools, communities and relief camps.
5. At the community level, we have installed four tube wells (100 feet deep) to support 85 families in two villages.
6. 3,98,140 NADCC tablets for water purification.
7. Constructed 12 temporary toilets.
8. 153 hand pumps have been chlorinated and repaired.
9. Oxfam continues to conduct cleanliness drive, promote public health and menstruation health management activities in villages.

Monthly donations will enable us to help families recover from disasters and rebuild their livelihood for a better future.
People who wish to donate, click here and help families receive immediate and long-term relief.


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