22 August, 2014 - Nepal floods: Tens of thousands displaced as disease fears grow
Mattias Bryneson, Country Director for Plan International in Nepal, is available for grabs and interviews from Kathmandu. Please contact Adam Cathro on 0488 202 945 to arrange.

Devastating floods affecting much of Nepal have left thousands of families displaced and vulnerable and fears are growing for pregnant women and newborns, many of whom have been forced to sleep in the open, as well concerns of outbreaks of disease, says child rights organisation and NGO Plan International Australia.

More than 298 people have died since heavy rains began on August 13. Although authorities and development agencies are working around the clock to get relief goods to affected communities, many areas remain inaccessible with no power or telecommunications, masking the true extent of this emergency.

“This emergency has affected at least 21,000 families and the number is growing every day as we reach communities who have been cut off by floods, damaged roads and landslides,” says Mattias Bryneson, Plan International’s Country Director in Nepal.

Though the rain has subsided, there is a growing fear of disease outbreaks due to water contamination and poor sanitation. People have been forced to defecate outdoors and hand water pumps are damaged, limiting the availability of clean and safe drinking water.

Plan is working to respond to the growing needs of affected populations. “It’s a race against time to get aid to communities who have lost literally everything. Homes have been destroyed, livelihoods lost, schools damaged and the threat of disease outbreaks is growing by the day. These communities were very poor before this disaster – now their homes and livelihoods have literally been washed away.”

“Children who were attending school have lost their school uniforms and supplies – and many schools have been damaged or completely destroyed altogether. Getting families back on their feet and supporting children to return to school will be a real priority – although for now we are focusing on life-saving measures like food, tents, blankets and mosquito nets.”

“We simply don’t know how many people need urgent assistance in these areas. We are working with local partners and communities to get reliable information but with no clear roads, telecommunications or power in these regions, access remains a real challenge” adds Bryneson.

“The health and protection of children and families must be a priority,” says Bryneson. Too many pregnant women, new mothers and their newborns are living in temporary shelters or even alongside roads, with extreme safety risks from disease-carrying mosquitos, contaminated water and a lack of personal security. Many health posts units have also been damaged – we are working with the Government and local District Disaster Management Committees to make sure that those who most need help get it.”

“For these communities, this disaster will take years to recover from. Plan has worked in many of the affected areas for more than 19 years so we will be working alongside communities on the long road to recovery.”

Plan Nepal is appealing for further funds to address the immediate needs of affected children and families through the distribution of health, hygiene and infant kits, mobile health clinics and psychosocial counseling for children and youths, amongst other urgent needs.

For photos, click here: http://bit.ly/nepalfloods . Please credit ‘Plan International Australia’

Editors’ notes:
Plan is one of the oldest and largest children's development organisations in the world, founded 75 years ago, working in 50 developing countries across Africa, Asia and the Americas and supported by 21 donor countries. Plan is independent, with no religious or political affiliations

Media contact: Adam Cathro, Plan International Australia, Media Relations Manager, 0488 202 945