EMERGENCY RESPONSE TO Assam Third Wave of Floods, India October 17-19, 2012

Situation : Assam is a North-East state of India affected by heavy floods since June 2012. The worst-ever flood hit Assam in the last week of August 2012.  In September, Assam was in the grip of the third wave of floods with the water level of the Brahmaputra River and its tributaries rising in 15 out of 27 districts affecting over 800,000 people in the state. The flood situation in central and lower Assam turned critical, with the water level of the Brahmaputra rising alarmingly and flowing above the danger mark in most places. The situation continued to be grim in upper Assam too. The death toll in the current wave of the flood has gone up to 18 and seven persons were reported missing.  The flood situation was more serious in Kamrup, Jorhat, Dibrugarh, Tinsukia, Dhemaji, Lakhimpur and Sonitpur districts.

As over 17.60 lakh flood-hit people, including about four lakh of them in relief camps, suffered in 16 affected districts, food packets were dropped by the Army and Indian Air Force helicopters in some of worst-hit areas such as Sootea in Sonitpur district and Sadiya in upper Assam’s Tinsukia district. Rescue teams of the Army and the National Disaster Response Force (NDRF) rescued thousands of marooned people in the affected districts and evacuated them to safer places. The immediate need of the affected population was food, shelter, safe drinking water and medical aid.


As floods, triggered by incessant rains, submerged 1,972 villages in 16 districts of Assam and affected 15 lakh people, a girl paddles through floodwaters in Marigaon district. 

Flood-affected villagers row their boats past a high-tension electric post in Morigaon district of Assam

The response was organized by AmeriCares India Foundation (AIF) in worst affected Sonitpur District in the state of Assam.  Pre-positioned Non Food Items and medicines were distributed to reach the needy individuals from the target communities of Sonitpur district of Assam.

Local NGO, PAJHRA, which stands for “Promotion and Advancement of Justice, Harmony and Rights of Adivasis agreed to partner with AIF for the proposed emergency response.  Logistic assistance provided by PAJHRA enabled smooth execution of the event.  The event specifically targeted individuals who are in need of assistance to cope up the situation due to heavy floods.  The event was planned to be executed from October 17th  to 19th.


Before initiating the distribution, each beneficiary was issued a coupon pre numbered on it by the local volunteers.  With the support of the local people recipients were verified, coupons were collected and relief kits were delivered.  The distribution process also included demonstration of appropriate usage of water purification tablets.

With this, AIF could reach out to the 500 neediest families with the support of NFI Kits and 467 patients with the support of medical aid of total 10 villages of Sonitpur district.

1. Non Food Item Distribution: 

Truck loaded with commodities
Walking to the relief site


Bhagesh starting to distribute Non-Food Items
Handing over the NFI kit to the beneficiaries
NFI include bathing & washing soaps, mat, torch, mug, daily use utensils, dental care, mosquito net.
Beneficiaries with Local NGO Partner

Interventions were designed in such a way which would address the immediate needs for hygiene and health, the lack of which can worsen the situation.  Health camps were specifically focused on treatment of water-borne diseases, especially diarrhea, as well as fungal skin infections and other ailments due to poor shelter and unhygienic conditions combined with poor nutrition.  Through this response visit the immediate healthcare needs of the affected communities were met.

2. Health Education

Villagers are participating in health education.
Neeraj from AIF is informing the patients on the use of Chlorine tablets for water purification

Bhagesh explains one-on-one why and how of water purification

3. Medical Camp

Medical camp in emergency light – local partner NGO registering patients.
Men, women and children queuing up for medical care.
Patients are seen by Dr. Seema of AIF.
Dispensing medications and giving instructions
Dispensing medications and giving instructions
Dispensing medications and giving instructions
All in action Caritas Volunteer translating instructions in local language.
All in action Caritas Volunteer translating instructions in local language.
Volunteers from Caritas helping out
Lunch prepared and served by village ladies.

“We tried reaching out to maximum number of affected families in these three days. A lot more needs to be done, for which assessments made and resources to be arranged for future relief”.

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