Every year, Assam suffers from debilitating floods leaving devastation in their wake.
Authorities have done little to mitigate the recurring situation, and the state remains far from our collective imagination. The current flood situation in Assam is a scene of human and animal misery.
As per latest reports, 30 of the state’s 33 districts have been submerged in the floodwater. The official death toll has increased to 15, while over 42 lakh people in 4,157 villages are reeling the impact of the floods.
More than 1.5 lakh hectares of farm land has been submerged as well, according to the Assam State Disaster Management Authority (ASDMA). While the Central government has directed the National Disaster Response Force and other agencies to offer flood relief, there are individuals like Rahul Rajkhowa, a 24-year-old musician from the state, who is helping people from the rest of the country connect with non-profits offering relief in the worst-affected areas in the state, ensuring help is offered in a time-bound manner.
It was back in 2017, when Rahul, alongside Himangshu Arya, visited the severely stricken areas of Assam, documenting the plight of the people. Subsequently, he wrote a song and produced a music video to spread awareness about the situation.
Thanks to his soul-stirring video, major national publications and non-profits around the country reached out and helped him raise funds for the people who desperately needed help.
“After I released the video, Oxfam reached out and called me for a panel discussion in Guwahati. They invited a lot of dedicated NGOs working on the ground from Majuli to Lakhimpur districts which were some of the worst-hit areas at the time. At the conference, I got in touch with local organisations that are doing serious relief work on the ground. With the floods causing devastation yet again this year, I have a couple of them listed out who don’t have donation links online. Those who shared my video and wanted to contribute are getting in touch with me, and I’m connecting them with organisations who need help working on the ground,” says Rahul, in a conversation with The Better India.
In essence, Rahul is the bridge between those willing to help and those delivering relief on the ground in real time. Some are helping by donating funds, while there are others who are collecting and sending necessary amenities for flood relief.
However, what happens often is that donors buy a lot of amenities that aren’t really required for flood relief.
Here are some of the items that they desperately require:
1) Drinking water: This is a major concern. “Every family is getting only four pouches of water, which is really little to get through the day,” says Rahul. Word needs to get out to bigger brands like Bisleri, Aquafina or other players in the packaged-water game who can help.
2) Hand sanitizers: Hygiene is also another serious concern. Most of the water is stagnant and dirty. Children are falling ill as a result. There are people are donating soaps, but this is of little use because there isn’t enough clean water to wash it off. You are wasting more water with the soap. We could donate hand sanitizers or other hygiene products that minimise the usage of scarce water.
“If brands like Lifebuoy or Dettol take notice, maybe they could help. There is only so much a few donors can do in terms of transferring funds, buying, collecting and sending basic amenities. This process needs to get more organised. A lot of resources and even equipment to check the damage caused by the flood are wasted due to lack of proper logistics and information. For example, Dal is running out, but people are sending 30-40 packets of haldi. What are you going to do with all this haldi?” he asks.
3) Makeshift tents and shelters: As a consequence of the floods, close to one million people have been displaced. They are using makeshift tents made for last year’s floods, and those can’t withstand the water. Rainwater has rendered most of these tents useless. If we could send across material for building tents or makeshift shelters that would help immensely.
4) Lactogen packets: Besides people, it’s the precious Rhinos of Assam, particularly the young, who are also suffering terribly as a result of the floods. Over 30 one-horned rhinos and counting have been lost till date. These rhino babies need six packets of Lactogen 2 (Nestle) a day to get by with their mothers gone.
This will melt your heart.
90% of #Kaziranga is under water now. #Disaster happens for #wildlife also. It increases when habitat is reduced and criss-crossed by other infrastructure. In the time of such disaster it becomes difficult for them to reach at a safer location. pic.twitter.com/E1yowPPJ1b
— Parveen Kaswan, IFS (@ParveenKaswan) July 16, 2019
If you want to donate, you can visit:
Or call North Lakhimpur Press Club : 9435277177
You can also reach Rahul for further assistance on his email: firstname.lastname@example.org. You can also call him at 9654006567.
(Edited by Saiqua Sultan)