Kerala’s floods and landslides have left ruin so terrible that around 200,000 people will be unable return home for at least six months, Christian Aid estimates.
A further 75,000 people in the south Indian State will never be able to return to properties that have disappeared in the floodwaters or mud or are irreparably damaged, the charity fears.
Even among houses that were not destroyed, many are now filled with stinking mud, vegetation and rubbish, roofs and walls have collapsed, furniture and household goods ruined and wells contaminated.
“The floodwaters have receded but left such severe damage that we estimate around 200,000 people will be unable to go home, for at least six months to come,” said Madara Hettiarachchi, Head of Humanitarian Programmes at Christian Aid.
“They will have to live in temporary shelters or other temporary accommodation until their homes are safe enough for return.
“The hardest hit of all may be people who earned their living as farm labourers. With crops ruined and livestock lost, they will be unable to work for the next two or three months.”
Christian Aid staff working in Kerala have heard many people’s stories of losing everything they had, including important legal documents, livestock, household goods and sometimes their houses too.
Kurrmati, a woman from Nattra colony, Thirunaly panchayat, Wayanad district, has lost her home to a landslide. She told us she valued the emergency aid kit that Christian Aid and its partners are distributing but also the chance to tell her story and share her grief.
Christian Aid and its local partners IGSSS and CASA are working in two of the hardest hit of Kerala’s 14 districts, Wayanad and Idukki, targeting areas where many people are considered to be Dalits and ‘Tribals’ – among the most deprived and excluded in society.
By Sunday 26th August, we had reached 10,000 people with emergency kits that include water purification tablets, tarpaulins, mosquito nets, soap, rope and blankets. Thanks to the work of our local partner PHIA, a further 2,000 people have safe drinking water. We will reach a further 7,500 people in the week commencing Monday 27th August.
Globally, floods force more people to flee their homes than any other type of ‘natural’ disaster, according to experts at the Internal Displacement Monitoring Centre in Geneva.
Well over one million people are thought to have been displaced by the Kerala floods, while more than 400 have died.
Even today, official figures suggest that some 725,000 people are still sheltering in emergency camps set up by the government.
Ms Hettiarachchi added: “People in Kerala are due to get financial help from the government, depending on what they have lost, but it’s not yet clear how this will work and it’s likely to be a long process.
“Aid agencies should try to involve farm labourers in the clean-up – for instance clearing debris, repairing roads and repairing water sources – and pay them. This will help, until their normal work becomes possible again.”
Christian Aid is appealing for donations towards the work in Kerala. To help, please visit www.caid.org.uk/kerala