Hunger and diseases further victimize flood victims

Published On: August 31, 2017 07:01 AM NPT By: KALENDRA SEJUWAL AND ARJUN OLI

BANKE, Aug 30: After spending days under the open sky, Kaushilya Kumari Barma of Daduwa Rural Municipality-2, returned back to what was left of her home. There was not a single grain of food in her home as flood had swept away everything.  But still, she and her family were trying their best to bring their life back on track. Unfortunately, she was struck with another tragedy which has left her numb. Her husband who was bed-ridden since the devastating flood breathed his last on Monday. 

“It was not possible for me to provide him with medicines when buying meals was a big deal for us,” said Kaushilya, adding,” I was helpless and I had no option than watching him die.”

Despite his illness, sixty years old Ram Sagar was somehow managing his family of seven by doing labor. As the deadly flood of August 12 washed away his home and damaged the little food that they had, he immediately returned back to labor for his family. Unfortunately, he fell ill due to excessive labor and stress. Even during his illness he kept worrying for his family and their future. 

A flood victim family of Daduwa Rural Municipality-2 dries rotten grains in the hope to eat them. After not getting anything to eat, the family dug out the grains that were buried by the floods inside their home. 

“It is hard for us to accept the bitter truth that he is dead,” said Prakash Srivastav, a neighbor. According to Prakash, lack of medicines and hunger claimed his live. 
While one has been killed in the flood wreak havoc, many more like Ram Sagar are battling with death in lack of food and medicines. Many of them hardly get one time meal. Even after knowing that they are suffering from various kinds of diseases none of them can afford medical treatment. Surviving with empty stomachs has been a challenge for the flood victims.

The fear of death is also haunting sixty-four years old Shantaram Kori, a friend of Ram Sagar. It has been more than two weeks that he has been bed-ridden. He has been relying on paracetamols offered by his neighbors. Instead of getting better his health has been worsening in the recent days. “I have got no food to eat so all that I am having is paracetamols and water,” said Shantaram, adding, “I don’t think this can save me from dying.” In his family of thirteen, seven more are struggling with death.

Locals of Khaliparuwa and Babagaun of Bethani which were hardest hit by flood are suffering from hunger. Even after knowing that these two villages were most affected by flood, they have been neglected so far by relief distributors. Many of them are deprived of relief packages. As per the details provided by District Administration office (DAO), by Tuesday 2,79,700 kg of rice was distributed in the flood affected areas. However, the victims of Betahani have not received more than 5 kg rice which was offered in the beginning.

Hunger has compelled some victims to dig out the rotten food grains buried in the debris while some are relying on the food which was brought by flood. This has further affected their health. In order to sustain her family of five, Sabitri Nau Tharu found no option other than digging the decayed wheat grains buried inside the mud.  On Wednesday, she was seen sifting wheat. “I hope we can have it after washing it,” she said. Though she has been able to manage one time meal for her children she along with her husband often has to sleep without food.

These days, victims have been engulfed with various kinds of diseases. Most of them are suffering from fever and diarrhea. Though the government had shown some concern regarding the health of victims in the beginning, now they have been left on their own, Tharu shared. “Hunger had taken already taken toll on our lives and the diseases are adding to our woes,” said Lal Kumari Yadav. 

 After the death of the breadwinner, family of Ram Sagar are trying hard to get over the tragedy but are unable to do so. What has aggravated their misery is the Madhesi culture as per which the family of the deceased must feed the neighbors and relatives on the thirteenth day. “I don’t know how we will perform that rite when we have nothing in the name of food,” said sixteen years old son of Ram Sagar, Rana Pratap.

People’s representatives have accused the government for not co-operating with the local government in relief distribution. Chairperson of Daduwa Rural municipality Narendra Chaudhary claimed that local bodies have done as much as it is possible to reduce the misery of the victims. “We can’t do this alone without the co-operation of government authorities,” said Chairperson Narendra. He stressed that the government should not only ensure food security but should also provide medicines to the victims.

Khagendra Poudel, Information Officer of District Administration Office says, relief distribution work is going parallel with data collection of the victims. As per the data collected till now, as many as 6, 700 households have been affected by flood. Amongst them 1250 households have been displaced.

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