South Asia Floods

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Major floods in India, Bangladesh and Nepal have killed 900 people and affected more than 50 million people. Funds are urgently needed to help provide food, shelter, water purification tablets, clothing and other essential goods, as well as basic health services and seeds, to nearly 1.5 million people who have lost everything in devastating flooding and landslides.

On July 30, 2004, the Canadian Red Cross announced a contribution of $50,000 to support the relief efforts in South Asia. The Canadian International Development Agency is providing $700,000 to the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies to help the flood victims in the region.


In the north eastern states of India, at least 482 people have died and nearly 30 million people – most of whom already live below the poverty line, have been affected. Millions have had their homes and belongings washed away and are living in makeshift shelters, in precarious conditions, on river embankments or high ground. 

The flooding in Assam is being described as the worst in the last 20 years and in Bihar the worst of the last century. Nearly 12 million hectares of crops are under water. With a request for assistance of nearly $3.1 million, the Indian Red Cross, which immediately mobilized hundreds of volunteers to distribute emergency relief to the population, will provide assistance to 250,000 people over the next four months.


In Bangladesh, at least 227 people have lost their lives and nearly 22 million have been affected in flooding described as the worst in 17 years,. Hundreds of thousands of hectares of crops have been destroyed, especially in the northern, north-eastern and central districts of the country. Millions of people have taken refuge in public buildings, on road embankments, or whatever high ground they could scramble to. 

Bangladesh Red Crescent volunteers have been extremely active in helping evacuate people, bringing them essential relief goods and evaluating their needs. The International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (Federation) launched an appeal for $4.5 million to assist some one million people in Bangladesh over the next six months. 

With the massive Brahmaputra and Ganges river systems swollen to dangerously high levels, the situation is expected to deteriorate. Bob McKerrow, head of the Federation’s South Asia delegation in Delhi, explains: “We are especially concerned because of an expected high tide in the Bay of Bengal on July 31, which means surging sea water would prevent the outflow of water from the rivers. Additionally, there is snow melt and rain run-off from the Himalayas and the monsoon season is not over. More than 50 million people are already affected by this disaster in three countries.” Safe drinking water is becoming scarce as water sources are contaminated by flooding. Additional concerns are the spread of water-borne diseases.


In Nepal, the death toll has passed 200, and an estimated 800,000 people have been affected by widespread flooding and landslides in the eastern and central regions of the country, which are among the poorest areas. Large areas of paddy fields and other agricultural land have been swept away. 

Nepal Red Cross volunteers were able to respond quickly and effectively to the needs of flood victims thanks to pre-positioned relief goods. The Federation launched an appeal for $2.8 million to bring essential assistance to 180,000 people in Nepal.