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Community Radio Mattoli 90.4 takes on flood relief activities in Kerala

The district of Wayanad in the State of Kerala in India witnessed the worst ever natural disaster in recent decades when torrential rains accompanied by strong winds virtually devastated a vast region, mainly the taluks of Mananthavady and Vythiri. The region is still on high alert with about 27167 (as per the official list on 18th of August 2018) people continuing to stay in relief camps in the most miserable of conditions. Many have lost their belongings and in several cases their houses. The fragile nature of the soil in these areas have resulted in some places becoming totally uninhabitable.

The South-West monsoon that started towards the end of May this year assumed alarming proportions in the months of July and August.  All low-lying areas have been totally flooded with waters that still have not receded even after a month.  To make matters worse, occurrence of a series of cloud bursts and heavy landsliding has made the situation irredeemable.  Further, releasing of huge amounts of water from the local dams dangerously scaled up the extent of damages. There are several instances of human casualities and to a very great extent that of the livestock.  People dwelling in the camps are anxiously waiting to return to their homes. However, it would appear that the time is not yet right for them to return as the fury of the nature still continues unabated.

The Government machinery, volunteer sector and the public have been doing their very best to alleviate the sufferings of the victims.  The Diocese of Mananthavady and the Diocesan Social Service Organizations have been in the forefront in providing space and facilities to run relief camps and to supply food and other necessary items such as bed sheets and woolen blankets. But the resources at disposal are getting fast exhausted, with the only next option being to appeal to philanthropic organizations and persons to come to our help.  The State Government, which is also not good in its financial situation, is requesting support from all possible sources to tide over the crisis.  In this regard, time and again, the government has been requesting the co-operation and intense involvement of voluntary organizations.

The hill district has been isolated after landslides on major highways such as the Wayanad ghat section of road on the Kozhikode-Kollegal National high way 212; Palchuram and Periyaghat section of roads on the Mananthavadi-Kannur state highway, and the Kuttiadighat section of road on the Mananthavadi-Kuttiadi highway. The District Disaster Management Committee has issued a red alert after the heavy rain battered the district. National Disaster Response Force, Navel rescue team and Defense Security Corps have been deployed in the District.

The incessant rains have triggered landslides in the district.  According to the official report, 36 landslides have occurred in different parts of Wayanad. As per the latest news, 308 houses have been completely destroyed and 1442 houses partially damaged. The torrential rains in the past two weeks alone have incurred a loss of approximately Rs. 800 crores in Wayanad district as per the official report. The agriculture and trade of the district are badly hit by the flood. The latest report shows that 14,645 hectors of cultivated land is submerged in water and various crops like pepper, coffee, food crops and vegetables perished in the flood. It is very difficult to assess the actual quantum of loss caused owing to the unfavorable weather and the total isolation of many areas from the mainland because of the destruction of roads. The banana and paddy farmers are the most affected. Apart from agriculture, almost all open wells have been damaged. Hence there is an acute shortage of potable water. Almost 60% of the toilet facilities have crumpled in the floods. Majority of the families lost everything including dress materials, food articles, household utilities, school books and even official documents including title deeds. Many lost their supplementary income sources like milch animals, goat and poultry.

The district authorities have opened more than 210 relief camps in Mananthavady, Sulthan Bathery and Vythiri taluks. Some of the families still refuse to be shifted to relief camps from trouble prone areas for fear of losing their cattle and other domestic animals, which often are their only source of income.

RELIEF MEASURES BEING UNDERTAKEN

Wayanad Social Service Society (WSSS) has taken immediate steps to rehabilitate the victim families to the relief camps and ensured supply of food, medicines and clothes. Government machinery alone is not in a position to meet all the requirements of the flood hit areas and the necessities of the victims. So the local non-governmental agencies also rose to the occasion. The director and the team members of Wayanad Social Service Society have visited the flood hit areas, relief camps and families of victims. So far WSSS has distributed 1750 Food Kits worth Rs. 1750000/- It has outsourced food materials, dress items as well as household utilities from the parishes and the nearby Catholic dioceses and is in the process of distributing them to the needy. Medical camps are being organized with the support of St. Camillus Congregation and St. Joseph’s Hospital Mananthavady. Clothes, vessels and food materials have been distributed in the relief camps. The Bishop of Mananthavady has made an appeal to all the parishes and the diocesan institutions for supporting the victims of this disaster even opening up their parish halls and schools for turning them into relief camps.

Wayanad Social Service Society, being the official social service society of the diocese of Mananthavady addresses the flood affected people through the various methods of relief works. We have introduced three fold strategies for the integrated development of the flood affected people.

Firstly, we are catering the basic needs of the people. Therefore we are providing food materials, dress materials, blankets, safety measures and medication.

Immediate supports are to be given to the people once they are back at home. Cleaning, supply of basic crockeries and other basic equipments needed at home for the immediate functioning are included in the second phase.

Helping the families to help themselves is the strategy planned for the third phase. Various activities are performed at this stage. It includes construction and maintenance of the destroyed houses, providing income generation programmes through various livelihood means such as the supply of seedlinks and other supports for the animal husbandry which is the only income source for the poor landless people in Wayanad. Radio Mattoli could do various supports to the people of Wayanad in collaboration with the governmental officials at this flood situation.

Community Radio Mattoli, the only community radio of the district of Wayanad, was able to utilize its expertise and all its possibilities to support the people affected by the flood. The radio station could become a mediator between the benefactor and the real beneficiary. The helpline numbers were given through the radio and the district administration could use the possibilities of the radio to give immediate notices. Staff and other expert volunteers provided immediate support, information and other rehabilitation strategies. Radio Mattoli, also introduced various programs at information, communication and education level for the integral development after the rehabilitation of the flood affected people of Wayanad district.

Source : Radio Mattoli 90.4