Bihar is being ravaged by floods. In 19 districts, over 1.71 crore people have been affected. Over 500 people have lost their lives so far – and that number is only going to increase.
Among those affected is Keerti.
Keerti is all of 12 years old and barely managing to stay afloat amid tons of water surrounding her village. She had just returned from school when she was alarmed by the growing noise in the neighbourhood. The flood waters had totally inundated her village – and people were hurriedly rushing through.
Her mother managed to scoot her and her siblings to safety, while her father rushed to assist her grandparents. The family is now living in tarpaulin shelters on the highway near their village in Muzaffarpur.
“My books are drenched. I have to get them from the house when the water recedes,” she states.
“Access to safe drinking water and toilets are posing a huge problem. Women and girls have to walk to reach hand pumps located on the higher grounds. Open defecation is emerging as a huge problem,” she adds.
Keerti’s father tows a boat to reach their now-inundated corn fields, grabs a few corn kernels, dries them and sells them on higher ground.
“The boats are not very safe. In floods, it is difficult to gauge the depth of the water. Hence, it’s even more dangerous,” Keerti’s mother says.
Plan India’s disaster response team is on the ground and is providing much-needed aid. It is distributing hygiene kits, water purification tablets, tarpaulin and other life-saving items.
In the second phase of the response, Plan India will be conducting health camps to mitigate any health-related problems among the people.
Plan India’s disaster-preparedness has saved many lives in the affected villages of Muzaffarpur. Members of Plan India’s Youth Advisory Panel have also played a crucial role in assisting flood victims to reach safe locations and in sounding off the alert system.
Like Keerti, many children are facing huge challenges due to the massive floods. With the help of Plan India, they are trying to piece their lives back – bit by bit.
A version of this post was first published here.
All photos by Debanjana Choudhuri, Plan International, India Chapter.