Assam’s flood-displaced this season have experienced a flavor of the type of camps that the United Nations runs to the Rohingya in Bangladesh, Kurds in Syria and other battle refugees throughout the world.
The cause for its “redesigning” of this flooding relief camps was that the 2018 flash flooding in southern Assam’s Golaghat district brought on by this 25MW Doyang Hydroelectric Project at Wokha district of Nagaland.
In the Baungaon Lower Primary School near Lakhipur, a group headquarters at Goalpara district roughly 165 kilometers west of Guwahati, seven-year-old Sushmita Hajong looks ahead to the quirky classes anganwadi manager Sajeda Begum and her staff imparts through dances and songs. Sushmita is just one of 63 children and 11 babies at the faculty, a relief camp for taxpayers of this underwater Dhamor Reserve village nearby.
Audio doesn’t inspire 10-year old Bibek Saha in the Nidanpur Adarsha Prathamik Vidyalaya relief camp 5 kilometers from Baungaon a.k.a. Signboard, a title derived by a British-era signpost in a bifurcation signaling the path to Meghalaya’s Tura city. What distinguishes him are building blocks in one of those chambers where they’re permitted to be more expressive.
“With COVID-19 in the backdrop, the floods in Assam have had a severe impact on children’s well-being and disrupted routine services for children and women. To address their specific requirements during such emergency, child-friendly spaces (CFS) were included as an integral part of the relief camp management system this year,” stated Madhulika Jonathan, UNICEF’s Chief of Field Office at Assam.
UNICEF provided technical assistance to the Assam State Disaster Management Authority (ASDMA) at the progression of the policy guidelines for handling the CFSs. The routine faked at least seven square metres of space to every camp resident contrasted to 3.5 sq. m. before, together with sufficient bathrooms and sanitation facilities apart from daily observation of health — each week previously — of their camp inmates.
“We carried out swab sample tests of the relief camp inmates regularly. Thankfully, none tested COVID-19 positive,” stated Varnali Deka, Goalpara’s Deputy Commissioner.
M.S. Manivannan, ASDMA’s Chief Executive Officer reported the CFS thought was initially piloted throughout the 2019 flooding. “The success of two camps each in Dhemaji and Lakhimpur districts made us implement CFS at all the 617 relief camps so far since May 22, when the first wave of floods struck Assam,” he included.
Based on an UNICEF field officer, the CSF idea germinated following the sudden inundation of nearly 10,000 hectares in formerly flood-safe regions of Golaghat district in 2018.
“ASHA (accredited social health activist) and anganwadi workers were not aware that relief camps provide an opportunity to continue their regular services. This prompted the thinking that such camps should not only be seen as distress relief centres,” he explained.
The most challenging part was condensing the “long-term UN model for Rohingya, Kurd and other refugee camps” for temporary flooding relief camps in Assam, not executed anywhere else on the planet. “We helped the government design programmes for the flood-displaced women and children at camps with duration from two days to more than a month,” the area officer explained, declining to be named.
Mr. Manivannan explained the operation of the CFS and other first-time services like mobile banking, complimentary telemedicine consultations and free psychological counselling can only be evaluated following a general audit.
“We will go for a social auditing in flood-affected areas after the water recedes to find out how the relief camps were maintained, how the relief material was distributed, etc. This will be placed before the panchayats and the public for inputs to get a better picture,” he advised The Hindu.
There have been complaints regarding erratic relief supply in regions like Takimari at Goalpara district. “The authorities didn’t offer sufficient tarpaulin and rice hundreds of individuals forced to remain on the embankment [that protects the area from the Brahmaputra river],” explained Aftabul Ambia, a Zilla Parishad member.
ASDMA officials stated Takimari could be one of the “1% villages” where relief “may not have reached in time”. These problems were being addressed, they included.