WFP assisting flood victims in Nepal

Published on 02 October 2008

Just a month after floods devastated a huge swathe of Nepal’s eastern region, floods have again ravaged the Himalayan republic – this time in the west.

Just a month after floods devastated a huge swathe of Nepal’s eastern region, floods have again ravaged the Himalayan republic – this time in the west.

WFP is responding by mobilizing urgently-needed food resources to feed up to 170,000 people displaced by the floods in western Nepal.

The latest spate of flooding hit eight districts in the Mid- and Far-West. Worst affected by rushing waters and landslides are three districts in the western Terai: Kanchanpur, Kailali and Bardiya. The Government of Nepal (GoN) and the Nepal Red Cross have put the death toll in the west at about 30 with the same number missing.

Electricity has been cut off and part of the East-West Highway – the country’s main arterial route – has been washed away.

Heavy monsoon rains

The flooding in the west is due to unseasonably late and heavy monsoon rains which have been pounding much of the South Asia region.

Meanwhile, WFP continues to distribute relief supplies in the eastern lowlands, or Terai, part of which was inundated when Nepal’s biggest river burst its banks in August.

The flooding in the eastern Terai occurred when the River Koshi burst through an embankment on 18 August. Worst-affected are the two districts of Sunsari and Saptari. Villages, roads and schools have been destroyed while farmland has been ruined and large numbers of livestock drowned.

View photo gallery

Redirecting the river

Engineers are cutting a channel to help re-direct the flow of the errant river but it is estimated that the embankment’s two-kilometre breach could take considerable time to repair.

In Sunsari, a 14-kilometre stretch of Nepal’s East-West Highway has been washed away, causing huge ongoing transport difficulties.

“Our house has been badly damaged”, says Maja Devi Yadav (45) who is living with her husband and five of her seven children in a camp near the breached embankment. “My three-year old daughter, Chandan Kumari, was getting very weak but has improved since she started getting regular meals of rice and ‘halwa’ (fortified food)”.

Poorest communities

Those affected in both the east and the west come from some of the country’s poorest, most marginalized communities. Displaced families who have not been able to shelter with relatives are living in makeshift camps by the roadsides. In the east, the GoN has moved to concentrate affected families in a permanent camp at Jhunta.

WFP is providing flood-affected communities with mixed-commodity relief supplies: rice, lentils, vegetable oil and salt. Daily cooked fortified food is also being given to vulnerable adults and children under five.