Oxfam responds to worst Kerala floods in nearly a century

Emergencies, Media Releases, News article written on the 20 Aug 2018

Oxfam India is preparing emergency relief and assistance for people affected by one of the worst floods in the history of Kerala.

The Kerala floods have affected more than one million people, left hundreds of thousands homeless and so far claimed the lives of more than 350 people.

Oxfam India’s Director of Programs and Humanitarian Response Pankaj Anand said following a rapid assessment of the situation, Oxfam India was preparing to respond in Idduki and Wayanad districts initially – and then scaling up to cover three more districts, Alappuzha, Palakkad and Pathanamthitta.

“We will put our experience and expertise on water, hygiene and sanitation into action in Kerala,” he said.  “Oxfam will be providing safe drinking water and toilets, as well as supporting village cleaning drives and the removal of debris to prevent the outbreak of disease.

“We will also be providing temporary shelters, food and hygiene supplies. The personal hygiene of women and girls will be a priority and we are preparing for the large-scale distribution of ‘dignity kits’.”

Floods and landslides have caused massive destruction. Houses in most districts are submerged and inaccessible, crops are damaged and livestock have been killed. People are stranded, running out of food and clean water, and making desperate appeals for help through social media and other channels.

Conditions remain challenging for the emergency response – the airport is closed, public transport systems have been suspended, phone towers are broken, and the power supply is out. Oxfam is working with the Indian government, local partners and other agencies on coordinated efforts to help those in need.

Oxfam India’s Chief Executive Amitabh Behar said:  “We are concerned about the rising death toll. The situation is grim but the scale of the tragedy will not be clear until affected areas become more accessible.

“While rescue and relief are the priority in the short term, the enormity of this catastrophe means ongoing support will be needed with recovery, rehabilitation and reconstruction.

“Multiple agencies must come together to provide relief. The international community will need to back the efforts that the India government and people are making in response to this unprecedented crisis.”

For interviews with Oxfam spokespeople in India (Delhi and Kerala) or Australia, please contact Dylan Quinnell on 0450 668 350 or dylanq@oxfam.org.au or Renee Thompson on 0418 873 782 or reneet@oxfam.org.au

Donate to Oxfam’s emergency responses around the world at: www.oxfam.org.au/icf

Photos and b-roll:
Low res videos & photos are available: https://oxfam.box.com/s/2zdeka89gr48apolg9rcowt8z48h1che