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Responding to Floods and Flooding

Responding to Floods and Flooding

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Published by Oxfam
How do floods differ from Oxfam's other humanitarian interventions? Very often floods are rapid onset situations which can be caused and aggravated by a number of factors. The object of this piece of work is to document past experience from previous Oxfam flood responses, and to produce a technical briefing note to provide good practice guidance to OGB field staff. Links to other on-going flood response work will also be identified.
How do floods differ from Oxfam's other humanitarian interventions? Very often floods are rapid onset situations which can be caused and aggravated by a number of factors. The object of this piece of work is to document past experience from previous Oxfam flood responses, and to produce a technical briefing note to provide good practice guidance to OGB field staff. Links to other on-going flood response work will also be identified.

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Published by: Oxfam on Apr 12, 2011
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02/08/2013

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OXFAM –TBN11(v1, 09-12-08)
Responding to floods and flooding
Inundation by floodwater or inundation of seawater as in the case of a tsunami,This Technical Brief identifies typical flood responses undertaken in various contexts and also discusses theOXFAM kits, which can be used for these processes.
Flooding Situations
Firstly, it is important to identify the type of floodingsituation affecting the local population. In order to dothis, it is necessary to undertake a rapid needsassessment. Questions to be answered include:
 
1. Is it a rapid on-set (flash-flood), a slow (riveroverflowing) onset flood or has there been atidal surge (Tsunami)?2. What caused the flood? Excessive local rainor rain in neighbouring catchments combinedwith poor drainage and/or high tides?3. Is it an area that is affected by flooding on aregular basis or have people been caughtunawares?4. What is the magnitude of the flood and whatare the affects the people lives and theeconomy?5. How long will floodwaters persist?Typical information sources include; local newspaper,radio & TV bulletins; observation, partnerorganisations, interviews with women and communityrepresentatives. Local authorities, responsibleministries. Hospitals, clinics and health outposts. Localand International NGOs and agencies.
Undertaking a rapid needs assessment
Typically, a number of questions need to be answeredabout the flooding and the affect of the floods on thelocal population. The rapid needs assessment is bestundertaken by staff with experience in emergencyresponse; however staff with development experienceor staff from local partner organisations can be quicklytrained to participate in such rapid needs assessments,especially if an experienced emergency person leadsthe team. Ideally, a rapid assessment team shouldconsist of: a team leader; a public health engineer, apublic health promoter and a food security andlivelihoods specialist. Depending on the magnitude of the flooding, such teams may be supported bylogisticians, administrative staff, finance staff, genderspecialists or any other necessary support staff. In theevent of flooding
 
over a very wide area, several multi-disciplinary assessments teams may be deployed at thesame time, as is the case in the
 
Mozambique floods
 
inMay 2002. In this case, the deployment of severalteams will require centralised coordination and supportto ensure there is access to transport, finance and thenecessary equipment to complete the assessmentsuccessfully. Security considerations and the well being of the assessment team must be taken into consideration at alltimes, especially in conflict zones or in locations wherethere are high levels of delinquency.
 
Typical Assessment Questions to be Answered.
As Oxfam typically intervenes in public health, questionsshould be focussed on the health status of the affectedpopulation, the affects on water, sanitation and healthinfrastructure, and the affects on people’s food securityand livelihoods. However, to provide a betterunderstanding of context, general questions, along withquestions on cultural issues and gender specific issuesneed to be asked. For more information on socio-culturalissues, see Oxfam TB2: “Vulnerability and socio-culturalconsiderations for PHE in emergencies”.Appropriate questions for a rapid needs assessment aregiven in Annex I. Further information on conducting needsassessments and suitable needs assessment questions aregiven in Oxfam Emergency Response Manual.
 
Effects of floods and typical Oxfam responses
1. Urban Water Supplies Contaminated
 
Due to leaks in distribution main, polluted water may leak into the water supply system, especially if there has been aloss of pressure in the distribution lines during the flood.Alternatively, sewage systems may be washed outresulting in contamination of water sources and watersupply systems. Water treatment plants may also beflooded, resulting in water treatment processes beinghampered. Industrial drainage systems may also overflow, causing chemical contamination of water sourcesand supply systems.
 
Oxfam’s normal response is to assess; obtaininginformation from the relevant government departments i.e.waterworks, sewage, municipal, etc. regarding waterproblems-their capacity, resources available and any planof action they may have.
 
Visits or surveys of water plantsand/or sewage works may be undertaken, as well as visitsto the affected community in order to understand theproblems. What are the current water sources, quality andquantity? Current and possible health risks that may affectpeople’s health need to be analysed, as do risks tolivelihoods and vulnerable groups, etc. Understandingpeople’s coping mechanisms in the current context is alsoan important factor, including accessibility and
OXFAM Technical Briefs – Responding to floods and flooding
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OXFAM –TBN11(v1, 09-12-08)
responsibility at family level. Coordination with otheragencies and the government/local authorities isessential in preparing a logical response. Following theinitial rapid assessment, further surveys may need to beconducted.
Typical Responses
Support waterworks needs as appropriate: i.e.providing tanks to perform sedimentation,chlorination, storage and distribution for theinterim periods and possible support to rehabdamage system or assistance to resume watersupply.
Install Oxfam or local tanks in differentstrategic location for treatment anddistribution operating by trained local or govt.staffs or Oxfam’s operators.
Assist water trucking from the unaffectedsource by providing storage, pumping anddistribution facilities.
Train volunteers/technicians to conductnecessary centralized or household treatmentfollowed up by surveillance (monitoringresidual chlorine).
 
Provide the means for water collection andstorage, and if necessary for householdtreatment. i.e. bucket, cup, chlorine solution,dropper/syringe, etc.
 
Could put in some pictures of tanks, etc. setup in water works compounds. Then after,have a text box about the use of PUR or someother magic powder. Alternatively, do a batchtreatment with Alum, including the jar test.Useful to have a diagram to show decantationprocess.
Useful equipment and materials
Oxfam Tanks T11, TR10, TRT6, etc. or suitablelocal PVC tanks 1 to 10m
3
 
Distribution accessories such as pumps, tapstands,flexible hose, etc.
LDR Rapid response kits includes lightweightpetrol pump, lay-flat hose, taps and accessories.
 
Calcium hypochlorite (HTH) or bleaching powder
Aluminium sulphate (crystal Alum)
Suitable water container, i.e. Oxfam buckets.Here we can expand out these sections with moreinformation of the relevant kits. Need to check whatnew specs are.
Human resources
Partnership with Govt. water department,municipal, Oxfam’s local partner or Oxfamexpatriates & local staff.This needs to include technical and materials support toenable the relevant authority to restart operations asquickly as possible.
Could put a case study in here?
2. Rural Water Sources Polluted
 
In the event of flooding in rural areas, shallow (protectedor unprotected wells) may be inundated or contaminatedby surface run-off. Shallow tube-wells fitted withhandpumps may also be affected in a similar way.Ponds and other surface water sources will undoubtedly becontaminated by flood water and it should be remembered,many people may be stranded on roofs and trees, and don’thave access to safe water.
 
Invariably, if simple pit latrines are used in such areas,these will have overflowed and contaminated theenvironment and water sources. If open defecation is acommon practice, faecal matter will be washed into watersources.
Typical Responses
Quick survey to identify priority water sourcesthat can provide fairly coverage to the affectedpeople.
Rapid cleaning and disinfecting programme foraffected water sources like well and handpumpsusing community volunteers by phase.
Dewatering water from community ponds oressential water bodies that use for washing andcleaning utensils.
Distribution of household water treatmentmaterials and instruction.
Distribute safe water among the strandedcommunity and means to store and use.
Dissemination of messages of what is safe waterand where and how to obtained it.
Distribute household water filters in low-densitypopulation settings
Useful equipment and materials
Dewatering pumps, cleaning tools, disinfecting agentsfor the wells.
Tools & spare parts for tube-well and hand pump torepair and clean
Follow-up team, to check water quality andpalatability of the clean well.
Provide “Watermaker”, “PUR”, chlorine tablets, alumand water container as and where appropriate.
Provide household filter units with the relevanttraining inputs.
Plastic bags, mobile tanks with local carrier such asboat, 3 wheeler van, bullock-carts, donkey/camel,tractors, etc. as appropriate to carry water.
 
Human resources
Need trained volunteers or paid worker to conductquick survey.
OXFAM Technical Briefs – Responding to floods and flooding
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OXFAM –TBN11(v1, 09-12-08)
Partnership with Government or municipal, healthdepartments, Oxfam’s local partner organisationsor Oxfam expatriates & local staff.
Include a case study about water filters fromthe Dominican Republic.
3. Excreta Disposal in Flood Situations
Flooding can cause displacement of the localpopulation into improvised shelters such as schools,community buildings, sports halls, stadiums and othersuch large buildings. Generally, such buildings are illprepared for the influx of a large number of people. Alack of organisation, within the displaced and amongstthe authorities, is likely to be one of the maincharacteristics. Access to potable water, appropriatesanitation facilities, health care and NFI’s will beproblematic.In such shelters, excreta disposal is very oftenproblematic due to over-crowding and the lack of latrines/toilet facilities in the building. Existinglatrines/toilets are fill quickly and rapidly overflow.Open defecation becomes commonplace and poordrainage at the site may compound the problems, withexcreta drifting around in drainage water. Women mayhave to wait for dark, suffering forced constipationduring day, as there is nowhere “private” to go. If “security” is poor, this may result in gender basedviolence and sexual assaults on women when theyaccess facilities.
Typical Responses
 
Support municipal or camp authority to emptyexisting septic tanks and dig additionalpits/tanks to accommodate additional excreta.
Provide additional temporary latrinestructures if floodwater is receding andfeasible.
Provide excreta containment when the groundfloors are flooded, so excreta does not driftaround.
“Portaloo” type solutions may be applicable,but success is dependant on being backed upby a reliable emptying and cleaning service.
Provide adequate privacy for women withplastic sheet or local materials such as mat,shacks, etc so.
Maintain latrines by paid worker if community unable to keep it clean anduseable.
 
Provide adequate lighting if toilets/latrines aredark, so they can also be used at night
Useful equipment and materials
Self-supporting latrine slabs, prefabricated latrinestructures and digging tools, etc.List Oxfam kits 
Locally available latrine slabs, toilet pans, or otherlocally manufactured toilet pedestal.
Empty drums, cement blocks, bricks etc to line pits ormake containment structures.
Locally produced matting, wattle and daub, plasticsheeting, clothe sacks etc to make superstructures andprovide privacy.
Provision of desludging pump and containment tanks,if appropriate and feasible.
Ashes, lime powder, disinfectants, diesel spraying etc.for latrines to prevent flies and to reduce odour
“Portaloo” toilets and the accompanying maintenanceservices, if appropriate.
Hire of sludge gulping lorriesCase study from Dominican Republic.Case study from Indonesia on tank emptying
4. Waste Management and Drainage in FloodSituations.
 
Waste management and poor drainage may quickly createproblems and health hazards in collective centres.Rubbish, produced by relief packaging, food leftovers, andother activities may quickly accumulate, creating idealbreeding sites for rodents, flies and other insects. Suchanimals/insects can become vectors for spreading diseasessuch as dengue, malaria, typhus, and leptospirosis amongstothers, especially when displaced centres are overcrowdedand no waste disposal facilities exist.Pools of stagnant water remains after floodwater recedesand mosquito and other vector population increased.Decaying corpses and carcasses can create an unpleasantdangerous environment.
Typical Responses
 
Technical support to the local authority,municipal, etc and integrate Oxfam works withgovt efforts if there are any.
Provide rubbish container or garbage hole to thedisplaced centres and ensure people using themproperly.
If the floodwater remains, provide rubbishcontainment mad of local or readymadematerials.
Provision of hiring rubbish truck, or fuel formunicipal truck to collect and dispose solid wastein a designated dumping area.
Provide tools to the community to clean-upsurroundings and to drain out stagnant water, fill-up ditches, etc.
 
Organise community and provide tools toconduct a mass cleansing campaign. Use cash-for-work or food-for-work (or incentives), if necessary.
 
Special programme to dispose corpses andcarcasses.
 
Useful equipment and materials
Tools (shovels, picks, rakes, hoes, wheelbarrows, etc.)
OXFAM Technical Briefs – Responding to floods and flooding
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