The three waves of devastating floods in Assam this year have left nearly 1.8 million children, along with their families, displaced, an assessment done by an NGO -- Save the Children -- found.
The NGO found that the first round of flooding affected the districts of Barpeta, Nalbari, Morigaon, Jorhat, Tinsukia and Golaghat on 25-26 June this year. By July 3, around 2.7 million people in 27 districts had been affected.
In the September round of flooding, around 1.5 million people were affected. "The total population affected was 4.89 million -- out of which 1.8 million were children," said Thomas Chandy, CEO of 'Save the Children', on his visit to Assam.
Chandy said that in any emergency in any part of the world, children were the worst sufferers.
"Children are neither able to escape if there is a flood, an earthquake or a tsunami, nor are they able to deal with the hardships caused by displacement, lack of food and clean water. The disruption of schooling and their normal activity can lead to deep stress which affects their cognitive development progressively," he said.
'Save the Children' response to the crisis included food grain support, safe drinking water, setting of child-friendly spaces where playing and learning takes place in a safe environment, cash assistance to families facing extreme financial hardship, tarpaulins for shelter, hygiene kits, medical support through trained medical practitioners, among other things. Chandy said 'Save the Children' plans to reach out to around 35,000 children in 10,200 households in the districts of Barpeta, Nalbari and Morigaon in Assam.
"We have recently started work in Tinsukia in Upper Assam as well," said Chandy Ray Kancharla, national manager for emergencies of the NGO, said that 'Save the Children' and its partners were on the ground in Assam immediately after the flooding began, and carried out assessments in areas that were difficult to reach, using boats whenever needed.
"We found that the children lacked access to clean water, did not get adequate nutrition, and their health and nutritional status was deteriorating with diarrhoea and other ailments on the rise. Moreover, communities lacked the means to buy food, to attend to their medical needs, and their livelihood options had dried up. Our response was based on these conditions," he said. He added that government services reached the people but not adequately at times.