Last Updated: Monday, 28 July 2014, 16:37 GMT

Nepal: Number of flood displaced reaches 180,000

Publisher Integrated Regional Information Networks (IRIN)
Publication Date 29 September 2008
Cite as Integrated Regional Information Networks (IRIN), Nepal: Number of flood displaced reaches 180,000, 29 September 2008, available at: http://www.refworld.org/docid/48e5c98ac.html [accessed 29 July 2014]
DisclaimerThis is not a UNHCR publication. UNHCR is not responsible for, nor does it necessarily endorse, its content. Any views expressed are solely those of the author or publisher and do not necessarily reflect those of UNHCR, the United Nations or its Member States.

KATHMANDU, 29 September 2008 (IRIN) - The number of people displaced by heavy flooding in western Nepal has reached almost 180,000, according to aid agencies.

Thousands of affected families in the mid-west and far-west regions of the Himalayan country need assistance following torrential rains on 19 September.

The number of displaced grew over the past week from an initial 80,000 to nearly 180,000 on 29 September following assessments by aid agencies and the government, with that number expected to expand further if immediate relief efforts are not stepped up.

International aid agencies say the number of displaced had more than doubled over the past 10 days, stressing the need for urgent emergency measures.

The two regions are already considered the most impoverished and least developed of Nepal's five administration divisions, which include Central, Eastern and the Western regions, where most of Nepal's disadvantaged communities live.

Socially disadvantaged groups most affected

Disasters on such a scale only increase the hardship of particularly poor and vulnerable groups, including the Raji, Badi and Tharu indigenous ethnic groups, said local NGOs.

Among the most affected are the Kamaiyas, former bonded labourers of the Tharu community, who have been in a government rehabilitation programme since 1996 after their liberation from their slavery-like conditions under their high-caste landlords.

"They don't have enough food. Most of their homes and farms are completely destroyed, all of which could make their lives more difficult and this is just the tip of the iceberg," relief worker Khem Bhatta, coordinator of Community Support Group (CSG), a local NGO working with the Badi community, told IRIN from Kailali District.

Of the nine districts affected by the flood in western Nepal, Kailali was the worst hit, with 13 dead, 17 missing and more than 135,000 displaced so far, according to various estimates by the government and aid agencies.

"We are concerned especially for the families who lost everything. We are doing everything we can to help them," Dhanpati Dhungel, coordinator of the Forum for Awareness and Youth Activities (FAYA), a local NGO, said from Kailali, where it was helping to provide food and shelter materials to the displaced with support from Action Aid Nepal.

Growing desperation

But despite such efforts, local disaster relief NGOs say desperation among the displaced is growing due to insufficient food and shelter.

So bad is the problem that a large number of families - especially from the Raji community - have begun returning to their homes in seven Village Development Committees to protect their lands and remains of their properties, according to FAYA.

Much of their food stocks, saved for the upcoming dry season, had been completely destroyed, they said.

In Bhuruwa village, Khailad, where most of the Raji ethnic group lives, all the farms and houses of 35 households had been destroyed.

Transport of relief supplies, including food and medical supplies, to remote villages has proven difficult due to poor roads, many of which remain damaged or blocked because of the floods.

"Transportation of supplies is very difficult and this is causing problems for food distribution also," said Bhatta.

UN World Food Programme (WFP) officials told IRIN it was mobilising emergency food assistance for up to 170,000 people in the flood-affected area.

According to the UN food agency, the situation is severe and it is moving fast to meet the needs of those affected, providing families with mixed food items including rice, lentils, vegetable oil and salt.

"We have already started the process of bringing the food to the affected areas but we still have difficulties reaching some of the worst-affected villages," said Ramesh Poudel, a local official of the Nepal Red Cross Society in Kailali.

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