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Massive floods have driven thousands of people in Nepal from their homes. Photo by Caritas Nepal

Massive floods have driven thousands of people in Nepal from their homes. Photo by Caritas Nepal

Caritas Nepal is responding to massive flooding in Nepal, where continuous rainfall last week wiped out homes, roads and crops and sent people fleeing from their houses.

The government has evacuated thousands of people to safer locations, but the evacuees “don’t have cooked food or basic items like blankets and mattresses,” says Arpana Karki, Programme Coordinator for Caritas Nepal’s Disaster Management Department. “They’re sleeping on the bare ground.” Arpana says the evacuees also do not have proper access to drinking water and sanitation.

Though travel is difficult due to washed-away roads, Caritas has mobilised its field staff and local partners to aid families in districts like Banke, Bardiya, Surkhet and Dang. “Our regional staff have been taking vehicles to the affected areas when they can, though some roads are impassable because of flooded culverts,” says Karki.

A few days after the floods struck, Caritas began distributing food and urgent items in the district of Surkhet. Caritas has launched an appeal for 300,582 euros to aid 27,600 people. Caritas plans to provide food such as rice, lentils and cooking oil, as well as plastic mats, tarpaulins, blankets and mosquito nets to improve temporary shelters. Families will also receive kitchen utensils and hygiene kits.

Caritas is concerned about land erosion, siltation and land degradation due to the flooding. “If people can grow crops, it will be just in winter. They’ll have to wait another 4 to 5 months for the harvest. So food is a priority,” says Karki. “The government has managed to provide some food, but it won’t last that long.”

Caritas plans to provide food such as rice, lentils and cooking oil, along with essential items like blankets, tarps, and material to purify water. “People are staying in camps, so we might have to have a mess programme where people can have cooked meals,” says Karki. “But once the water recedes, we expect some percentage of people to go back home.”

Many people have been injured and medical needs could worsen. “We’re expecting waterborne diseases soon,” says Karki. “There could be an epidemic in future.”

“Our staff in Bardiya says the local markets are not functioning, the communications system is disturbed and there’s no transportation,” says Karki. “There’s only water, everywhere you look.”