Days of heavy rainfall have affected a total of more than 16 million people in South Asia. The flood disaster has completely destroyed hundreds of villages in the rural areas of India, Bangladesh and Nepal. So far, more than 1,900 people have been killed, according to the World Vision aid organisation. In India and Bangladesh, over 600,000 homes have been ruined respectively, whereas 65,000 have so far fallen victim to the floods in Nepal. According to Welthungerhilfe, a third of the country is submerged, and many fields, bridges and roads have been completely destroyed. “Once again, the poorest of the poor are worst hit. The areas affected were already suffering from hunger and had many undernourished children before the disaster. Clean drinking water and toilets are in short supply,” says Welthungerhilfe Country Director Asja Hanano.
According to World Vision 20,000 wells have become unusable in Nepal. The water is so strongly polluted that for the time being, the wells cannot serve as drinking water sources. Dangerous diarrhoea diseases are spreading. Failed harvests due to the floods represent a further problem. Alone in India’s three worst-hit Federal States (Bihar, West Bengal and Assam), the floods have destroyed more than 500,000 hectares of cropland. Welthungerhilfe estimates that in the south of Nepal, a region that represents one of the country’s breadbaskets, 80 per cent of the harvest has been destroyed by the water masses.
This year, the onset of the monsoon rains has been much earlier than usual, and it has brought along continuous, strong rainfall. In contrast, last year, vast stretches of land in India were suffering from a drought disaster owing to only very little monsoon rain. As a result, fields dried out and livestock died of thirst.