Provide lifesaving support to Bihar

The floods and heavy rains in Bihar have threatened the lives of millions of children. Urban Patna and nearby rural areas are under water, with almost every building being fully submerged.

Some 1.65 million have been affected across Bihar. Many Newborn hospitals have been flooded restricting access to medical facilities for pregnant woman and newborns, putting more lives at risk.

The situation is grim for the people of Bihar, especially children who are most vulnerable to disease, malnutrition and neglect.

UNICEF is on the ground helping in the distribution of hygiene and dignity kits containing basic items such as soap, sanitary pads, toothpaste and brush, etc. to maintain personal hygiene and treat water to reduce risk of infections and diseases posed by stagnant dirty water.

The kit costs 1784 INR and contains essential daily items.

Donate hygiene kits for families and children

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Meena delivered her child in the Ghanshyampur Primary Health Centre (PHC) where the ASHA Didi, Kalpana was a great help. “She took good care of my baby and ensured that she was timely immunized. I was also looked after well”.

The VDMC (Village Disaster Management Committee) is a village institution that anchors UNICEF’s CBDRR (Community Based Disaster Risk Reduction) intervention. It systematically carries out risk assessment and risk mitigation and prevention activities at the village level through community mobilization.

Ratni herself took an arduous journey together with the males across the village to identify high ground for shelter space where people could take refuge in the event of floods. “ As a precautionary measure, I led a group of 350 people to the embankment area where we had made flood shelters in advance as a part of flood preparedness activity. We stayed there for 8-9 days”.

It was the foresightedness and awareness campaign led by Ratni and her associates that the community could succeed in household level stock piling of essential food items like sattu, chura, sugar, salt, candles and matchsticks, and in maintaining temporary shelters, admit her male counterparts.

Hailing from the marginalized Mahadalit Community and mother of nine children, Ratni, who has been an active participant in Disaster Risk Reduction Training believes that since women and children face the main brunt of disasters, they need special attention in the risk reduction activities.

“As soon as the warning signals of the onset of flood was transmitted on the mike by the frontline government workers, I undertook household visits to individual families and identified malnourished children who become more susceptible to epidemics during floods. With the help of ASHA Didis, I provided essential information to parents on malnourishment and on what kind of food to store for them in the event of a crisis,” says an aware and informed Ratni.

Musni had received training in disaster risk reduction two years back and since then there has been no looking back for her.“The training by VDMC catalysts was a great help to us,” she said.

This time when flood came on 14 August, she was not at all scared, rather she had braced herself and her community fully to face it. People equipped with counter mechanisms had confidence and were more aware. Musni accompanied the VDMC team members amidst knee deep waters to identify people and places ‘’at risk”. She facilitated a handicapped man, 2 pregnant women and undernourished children to shift to flood shelters Before the flood fury would overtake the village, most of the villagers had moved to elevated structures, thus escaping any mishap.

We had made life jackets out of plastic bottles beforehand.

After the recession of flood waters, there is a risk of epidemic and Musni goes around telling people how to maintain hygiene and cleanliness in their surroundings. “Now people are themselves demanding bleaching powder from Primary Health Centres (PHCs).

As a member of the thematic task force for addressing malnutrition, she accompanies the ASHAs on their survey visits of malnourished children using MUAC tape ( Mid Upper Arm Circumference Tape used to measure malnutrition among children ) and monitors the distribution of rations issued to ‘at risk’ children.

One of its child member, fifteen year old Madhav, a student of Upgraded Middle School, Kiratpur, has a good number of achievements to his credit. He used to visit the embankments everyday with his friends and disseminated the information about the status of water level to the elders in the village and to VDMC ( Village Disaster management Committee).

He says with confidence, “ As soon as we got flood alerts, we helped people of the village in taking shelter on embankments. We took special care to ensure that they carried all their important documents safely with them.”

Madhav saved three children who had gone to relieve themselves from drowning by pulling them out of water and restoring them to their parents. “ One day I saw some belongings floating in the water and recovered them much to the happiness of the owners who had spent nearly half their lives in securing them.”

For Nunnu kumari, a student of the same school of class 9, the ominous night of 14 August was a tryst with death.

“I never thought that we would come out unscathed from the flood. My only prayer to God was to save my pregnant sister.” She recounts. Nunnu helped her sister in climbing on the chauki and took special care to ensure that she would not move out alone for the fear of getting imbalanced and slipping down.

The villagers support her in admiring the ASHA Didis for their relentless efforts in crossing the deep waters and continuing with their regular household visits of identified pregnant women.

“Their prompt response in taking my sister to Kiratpur Primary Health Centre by boat helped in her safe delivery. Even today they come regularly and help my sister in feeding her first child and educate her about child care”, appreciates Nunnu..

Nunnu gives a demo on handwashing and very intelligently explains the scientific testing of iron content in water. As she explains the colour change of water with a cut piece of guava as a confirmatory test for the presence of iron in it, people gaze upon her with awe. “ I never knew about all these things before becoming a part of the School Disaster Management Committee’’( SDMC )

Nunnu engages actively with the community, educating them about the importance of safe drinking water and use of bleaching powder to ward off diseases like Cholera and Diarrhoea which might follow in the wake of floods.

Vivek Kumar, another member of SDMC and sharing the same class is full of youthful energy. “ Although this was my first experience of flood, we had been prepared so well in Disaster Risk Management training in our school that I was not at all apprehensive.”

However, the situation he said was scary, “ Roads were completely broken. The current of water was very fast and we saw things getting washed away in its flow.”

Nature has provided resources which are easily accessible and can be utilized in times of need and the Banana trunk at once attracted the young innovative minds. “The embankment was very far off and the country boat was taking time to arrive. My first response on getting flood alert was to collect my friends, gather banana trunks, fix them with iron nails and build small boats which could carry atleast 3-4 people at a time”.

Without losing time and before country boats could arrive, Vivek and his friends had transported a large number of people to the safe zone of the earthen embankment along Kosi River, thus saving many lives.

SNO Hygiene kit items Qty
1 Bucket with Handle & lid - 14 ltr. Capacity 2
2 Plastic Mug - 1 Ltr Capacity (Virgin Plastic) 1
3 Bathing Soap: -125 gms 8
4 Washing Soap: Detergent: -150 gms 8
5 Women sanitary Pad- ( 06-7 pcs/pack) 6
6 ORS - 21.8 gm 6
7 NaDcc Tabls 67 mg 60
8 Savlon / Anticeptic Lotion- 100ml 1
9 Comb ( 1 Small , 1 Big) 1
10 Nail Cutter- Standard Size 1
SNO Dignity kit items Qty
1 Ladies inner wear (Cotton, medium size) 3
2 Ladies inner wear (Cotton Large size) 3
3 Tooth brush- Soft in different size; Large-3, Medium 3 nos 6
4 Tooth Paste, 150 gms - Packed in plastic tube, 150 gms 5
5 Safety pins - 12 pins (medium size) per bundle, metal type 2