Jun Kalita (name changed) is a 17-year-old boy from the Darrang district of Assam. He had to discontinue his studies and work in a garage to support his family after his father lost his job during the pandemic. Just as the family was learning to cope, the recent floods in Assam forced the Kalita family out of their home. They had to take shelter in the relief camp.
Amid this dire situation, Jun is trying to hold onto his job as he is the only earning member of his family. He is trying to establish regular contact with his employer so that he doesn’t lose his job. The teenager harbours dreams of studying further, but the present crisis has made it almost impossible for him to dream big.
“I wanted to complete my studies and earn a decent living, but the present situation is just not conducive,” said Jun.
“I remember Jun as a quiet boy who was always ready to help others. With adequate support, he can complete his studies and fulfil his dreams,” said John Paul Tirki, Save the Children, Assam.
Hope Amid Despair
Nandita Saikia, 27, is the mother of a one-year-old boy. When the flood waters started gushing into their hut in the middle of the night, Nandita and her entire family had to leave without being able to pack any food for the infant. At the relief camp, Nandita was forced to feed him starch water till support came from the government.
The relief camp was overcrowded and cramped. Hunger made Nandita’s son cranky. She became worried about her child’s nutritional intake, along with hygiene and sanitation. She was also concerned about menstrual hygiene. People were forced to defecate in the open, which increased the risk of groundwater contamination. Potable water was scarce as the tubewells had also gone underwater.
At Save the Children’s relief camp in Bogachola, Nandita was given a sanitation kit. “I am happy to get the hygiene kit and other essential items. Now, I can ensure my family gets clean water and prevent contracting any water-borne disease.”
How is Save the Children helping?
The pre-monsoon showers in Assam that started in April and continued through May had contributed to 64% excess rainfall in the state that led to flooding and embankment breaches. The rain intensified in the second and third weeks of June and has had a devastating effect.
To date, 89,329 people have been evacuated. Deployment of 26 teams of the NDRF with all necessary rescue equipment, 11 aircraft of the Air Force and six columns of the Engineering Task Force in Assam carried out the rescue work.
Darrang, Nagaon, Morigaon, Dhemaji and Majuli are some of the worst affected districts. Majuli being a riverine island, is completely cut off from the mainland as the water levels are still dangerously high. Nearly half a million people are currently in relief camps set up by the government, 1,25,558 houses have been damaged, and around 0.22 million hectares of croplands have been damaged in the floods.
These districts are reeling under the loss of lives and livelihoods with restricted supply of essential services, being cut off from the rest of the state. Thousands of people are living in temporary camps under unhygienic conditions and without proper food and clean potable water. The families don’t even have soaps, toothpaste and other hygiene materials, and women and girls do not have sanitary pads. They are forced to defecate in the open. Families living in relief camps don’t have enough money to repair their homes destroyed in flood. Power outages and the absence of lighting pose not only environmental risks but also protection risks.
Save the Children in Assam has initiated a response across locations worst affected by the floods to ensure the protection of every last child. This response covers an entire gamut of activities about how we take an assessment of the situation in consultation with the key stakeholders and communities and reach out to communities and children to ensure a dignified life during this humanitarian crisis.
Considering the severity and scale of impact, Save the Children has decided to reach 10,000 households, including 20,000 children, through WASH, education, child protection, shelter, Child-Friendly Spaces (CFS) and health interventions. Rehabilitation support through livelihood and resilience building will also be done in Dhemaji, Darrang, Nagaon, Morigaon and Majuli.
Save the Children urges people to support the people of Assam and help us reach the most vulnerable and marginalised families with children for a systematic recovery.
Support our work to provide relief to worst-affected children and their families, donate HERE.