Photo: Paul Jeffrey/ACT Alliance
Several weeks ago, on the morning of February 7, a glacier burst in the Raini village of the Himalayas, causing a flash flood in Rishiganga River. The resulting landslide killed at least 36 people, and nearly 200 more remain missing. Most of those killed or missing are believed to be workers at the hydropower projects, where the landslide originated. Villagers that were close to the river when the disaster occurred were also swept away.
Week of Compassion is responding, supporting our partners on the ground who are working tirelessly to get critical supplies to those in need, despite many significant challenges.
In addition to the tragic loss of life, this disaster has impacted the livelihood and living conditions of people in the affected villages. Farm land and crops have been lost; the hydro projects that employed many have ceased operations; and in many cases, those who have employment elsewhere can’t get to work. The event damaged two hydropower plants and five bridges, and much of the supply to the national power grid has been cut off.
This damage to infrastructure also makes it difficult to get aid and critical supplies to many of those in need; while also making it hard for people to generate income in the meantime.
In this crisis period, CASA--long time partners of Week of Compassion--is gathering information of the affected families and missing people. Much of their focus is on getting relief to the most vulnerable, including migrants, Dalits, widows, women heads of families and the disabled.
Because of their longstanding relationships in the area, CASA has established means of identifying need in hard to reach areas. Their goal is to reach 500 families in 10 villages with critical supplies including dry ration kits for food security; WASH (Water, Sanitation and Hygiene) kits for health and hygiene; and materials to provide temporary shelters until more permanent solutions can be established.
Suresh Satapathy, Program Manager for CASA, says “Some villages are still completely cut off, so this is quite a task. About 2500 cannot cross this part of the river. There is no electricity restored. We are concerned.” So far, food has been distributed to about 200 people, with help of neighbors. Other community members are prepared to assist with distribution, once supplies can reach the impacted area.
“They need supplies-- and light,” says Suresh. “This reconstruction could take 10 to 20 years. In the meantime, we have to support them, or it will be very difficult to survive…I hope we can move forward with the implementation of the emergency program. It has been 15 days. People are expecting something from us.
Week of Compassion continues to work with partners, including CASA, to help provide immediate relief in the coming weeks and will accompany the local community in the years to come as they rebuild.
When you give to Week of Compassion, you Let Love Flow in tangible ways. Your gifts help deliver aid to those in urgent need, and keep the flow of supplies moving even to places where damaged infrastructure creates significant barriers. We are grateful for our partners who are working around the clock to overcome unthinkable challenges; and we are grateful for the generosity that allows us to support this life-saving work and share hope in the midst of heartbreak.