Innovating solutions to improve children's lives in char areas
Every year in June, the monsoon season returns to India and Bangladesh. In the so-called char areas, which consist of islands on the Brahmaputra river, everything from housing area to agricultural land gets flooded for months. Safe drinking water, hygiene and food get scarce and dwellings are damaged. Terre des hommes' long term presence in this region improves the resilience of children and their families living in these areas.
“I prayed to God every day for it not to rain as my daily labour would not be enough to feed my young children and repair my damaged house. But the rain came,” tells us a widow with four children. Cut off from the mainland, the consequences are significant on vulnerable families. Children’s health deteriorates and they face difficulties to go to school.
After the floods this year, Terre des hommes decided to support 12 villages in Assam (India), where 56% of the houses were damaged and almost all the hand pumps for drinking water and latrines were submerged.
Providing a sustainable response
We provide emergency food, hygiene kits and medicine to improve families’ living conditions. During the water swells, we facilitate access to school through the rehabilitation of roads. We also provide education kits to replace the school material that gets washed away. “This helps children to go back to school after the devastating floods,” says a teacher in Assam, where 1200 children benefited from our work.
“The most important focus of Tdh after emergency help is to build back better,” says Bikash Chandra Manna, our Disaster Risk Reduction specialist for Asia.
Thanks to the consultation with the local community, we have built elevated water pumps above the usual inundation level to ensure access to safe drinking water. We have also constructed flood resistant toilets to improve the hygiene situation.
Furthermore, we help communities rebuild their houses, not in the areas where the floods would affect them again next year, but in newly elevated regions. To achieve this, we raise the soil and build settlements in cooperation with the population above the inundation level. Families can therefore get back to their normal lives without the fear of the next monsoon rains, since now they are safe for the years to come.
Photo credit: © Tdh