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Crisis response summary: India - Flooding

Date added

18 March 2016


On 1 December 2015, a wave of heavy rains, the third in a month, hit southern India, leading to the most intense floods in living memory for communities in Chennai city and districts in northern Tamil Nadu state, killing at least 260 people, damaging infrastructure, closing hospitals and displacing an estimated 400,000 people from their homes.

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On 4 December, Christian Aid alerted the Start Fund, noting that the government and local NGOs were struggling to cope with the scale of the flooding and relocation of affected people, preventing immediate needs from being met, and that more heavy rains were expected on 5-7 December.

On 7 December, 73.25 hours after the Start Fund alert, £300,000 was awarded to two projects (one led by CARE and another led by Christian Aid in consortium with Oxfam and Save the Children) to address needs related to FSL (unconditional cash transfers), Shelter (shelter kits) and WaSH (hygiene kits, water purification and handpump repairs) in Chennai city and Cuddalore, Kanchipuram, and Tiruvallur districts of Tamil Nadu state.

Agencies experienced several challenges during implementation. CARE experienced delays in routing cash transfers through bank accounts, given that banks were busy with the distribution of government relief funds to compensate shelter damage. The government was also conducting needs assessments at the same time as CARE in some villages, which also caused delays. Christian Aid noted that local political leaders negotiated for relief distribution irrespective of the level of damage and financial status of households, requiring Christian Aid (along with Oxfam and Save the Children) to advocate for the needs of the most vulnerable and for stronger government cooperation at the community level.

These two projects reached 51,653 people (48% female, 52% male) with £297,073, 13% of affected people and 9,845 fewer people than planned. The target population was selected based on household vulnerability and damage severity. Agencies targeted the poorest and most marginalised communities (Irula tribe and Dalits- members of the lowest rank in Indian society) that were most severely affected by the flooding, suffered damage to their houses, lost household items and did not have access to water storage and hygiene facilities. Particular attention was paid to single female-headed households, child-headed households, pregnant and lactating women, households with the most number of children, families in need of immediate heath care, and persons with disabilities. Children under 18 (31%) and people over 50 (23%) together made up 54% of people reached.

Download the Crisis Response Summary