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Orissa Flood September 2008
Sneha Mishra: ‘The situation overall was quite grim and there was massive devastation in the affected area. There were 2 human casualty occurred in Sagadaiko GP of Niali Block due to flood and one more casualty on snakebite aftermath of Flood. In Banki and Tigiria life was save as a massive evacuation operation by the district administration before the flood reached the area. But the physical devastation of houses even pucca houses, livestock and paddy was jeopardizing the situation. People are still in relief camps and makeshift tents on the embankment, School, Clubs etc. The administration has provided relief like flattened rice, rice, cooked food and polythene in few area. However this is not at all sufficient and people are in need of relief for some more days. Specifically people those are displaced and trying hard to get back to their place after the furious flood. This type of flood was never seen as described by the elderly people in the villages. From Niali a number of people migrate to other part of the country in search of work. The aftermath of flood without any agricultural responsibility will force people to migrate in large number and thus a possibility of trafficking cannot be ruled out. A number of girls have trafficked to UP and Maharastra earlier from this belt and this disaster might be facilitating this process if not responded in time. While discussing with the women folk it was realized that the number of RTI cases got increased after the flood. Besides that a lot of skin disease (eczema in joints of fingers and toes) is seen besides common cold, cough and fever. The Anganwadi worker and ASHA are doing their duty quite well even though they are not left from the furry of the flood.’
Sneha spoke with several people like Mrs. Arati Behera of Keutapana village. Mrs. Arati Behera is the AWW of the village: ‘ My house is totally collapsed and it is a kuccha house. We were all on the roof of our neighbour’s house which was a pucca house with concrete roof top. Early in the morning on 20th even that house collapsed and we all took shelter on the roof of the house.’

Sneha: ‘ Mrs. Arati could manage to float and took shelter on the bamboo bush before people rescued her by a country boat. But she has not neglected on her duty. All her record of the center is flown in the water but her spirit is still indomitable. This village belongs to the Banki Block and geographically this area is under Athagarh Subdivision and thus people in this village are still deprived from usual course of relief that comes form the Block office which is in other side of the river.’
Sneha continues: ‘Children in any emergency situation are usually vulnerable. I observed during the visit that children are again neglected. The relief materials never have baby food where as the child population data is always available with the Govt. All the School buildings are used as relief camp and it is quite obvious that children would be off from study for a long time. Number of Schools have damaged or still marooned and thus likely to take a long time to come to the position of imparting education. Children are seen to be spending time by roaming here and there aimlessly. I asked one child Amar Behera of Baulanga village and he said with a blank eye ‘I really do not know when my Schools would start functioning again.’ His School building is collapsed and part of it is used as relief camp having people and animal. A possibility of increasing in child labour from the floods affected area is likely to be there. Most of them have lost their books, notebook and bags etc Children from SC community are at greater risk of School drop out as they might not afford to get these materials due to their vulnerable position. Under this circumstance the vulnerability of forced labour and trafficking of children is most likely to take place. Sorts and game equipments are lost and children have obviously stopped playing. Children are mostly suffering from common cold and cough now and as apprehend would suffer from diarrhea. Even though the AWWs were supplied with some medicine but periodic health check up is quite essential to do away the possibility of any severe health hazards. Children those have lost their house, belonging, educational material and moreover School are in a loss. The devastation has shaken the entire community and the reflection is more on the children. This environment is conducive for the abuser and children might face abusive situation during the period as the focus of the adult is definitely on reviving than protection.’

Story of Amar: Amar is in class 5 of the UGME School in Baulanga village. He was in a camp with his parents during the flood. His parents and others in the village were saying that the river flowing near their village would spread into their village. He was not sure what kind of problem it could be for them and was thinking it will be easier for many old people who could not walk down to the river for bathing. After four days of the flood he came back to the village with his parents and could not believe this was his village. He did not find his house instead there were some stones and concrete debris. Many of his friends house were not there. The big tree that was protecting the embankment was as if was a defeated soldier and fell down. Along with some friends he ran towards his School but could not recognize as most of the classrooms were collapsed and people are taking shelter in part of the building.

The water had receded and Amar could not even find the water coming near to the village now. He could not understand how the river could cause so much devastation in their village. He has innumerable questions, why does flood occur like this taking away everything? When is he going to go School? From where can he get his books and bags? Can he go to his house someday and have food prepared by his mother……and it goes on...


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