On June 16th and 17th 2013, a cloudburst and unprecedented heavy rains perpetrated flash floods in Uttarakhand. Twelve out of the state’s thirteen districts were affected with maximum impact on Rudraprayag, Chamoli, Uttarkashi and Pithoragarh.
Washing away houses, the flash floods left many homeless. Damages continued to mount due to the landslides and the river scouring the land at the foundation. Moreover, basic public amenities such as roads, bridges, schools, health centres and other essential infrastructure were either severely damaged or cut off, leading to problems of accessibility.
In view of the scale of disaster; SEEDS immediately activated its emergency protocol and deployed a response team to assist affected families. Civil society organisations and the government were supplying food items and dry rations. Common shelter places were also being identified, where communities were being housed.
Much of this effort was uncoordinated, making it difficult to assess actual needs. However, SEEDS identified two key areas where humanitarian assistance was urgently required. One, the communities were facing problems in the common shelters provided by the government, especially in terms of women’s privacy. Second, while dry rations were being provided, these families did not have the required kitchen utensils to cook their food.
Supported by Christian Aid, SEEDS therefore took on the task of providing family tents and utensil sets to 193 most vulnerable and needy families. Since a majority of school buildings in these areas were also affected, continuing education was another priority. Five such schools were provided with tents to function temporarily and sets of utensil to continue mid-day meals.
With roads washed away, transportation was an issue and often access to the distribution sites had to be done by headload. Despite these challenges, the distribution was done in an accountable and coordinated manner which was well-appreciated, based on community requirements and in association with the local government.