The "catastrophic" flooding in Kerala, which has killed more than 230 people and displaced another 13 lakh, should act as a wake-up call to world leaders and the Indian government on the deadly impact of climate change, ActionAid International said today.
It said the deadly floods must also be a signal to leaders to commit the resources needed on a global scale to cope with extreme climate events.
ActionAid is working on the ground to help Kerala's survivors. It said it is working to bring essential items and shelter materials to thousands of the most vulnerable families affected, aiming to reach 45,000 people in areas most impacted within the next month.
It is also working with communities to develop programmes that will support their full recovery in the longer term.
The NGO said the hundreds of dead people and the one million forced into relief camps due to flooding are the latest innocent victims of world leaders' failure to stop climate change from spiralling out of control.
"The catastrophic flooding in Kerala...should act as a wake-up call to world leaders on the deadly impact of climate change. Higher than average rain and shifting weather patterns have caused the worst monsoon season in the region since 1924," it said in a statement.
Ahead of the UN Climate Change Conference in Bangkok next month, the NGO urge governments to see the flooding in Kerala "as evidence of a crisis that is already happening." "Communities around the world are already facing climate disasters and most often it is the poorest and most vulnerable who are left to pick up the pieces of decades of inaction by richer nations," it said.
Harjeet Singh, Global Lead on Climate Change for ActionAid, said the floods in Kerala provide yet another reminder that climate change is making extreme weather events more frequent in India and around the world.
"The Indian government must take concrete steps to climate-proof development to protect citizens from these kinds of disasters, which sadly will only become more common in the years to come," Singh said.
He said planning needs to bring together scientific knowledge from climate modelling, and involve local people to understand real risks and needs.
"This disaster highlights that there can be no delay in investing in climate research, training people in the new climate reality, and strengthening public infrastructure to be fit for purpose in an era of climate change," he said.
The rain in Kerala has now abated and the India Metrological Department has withdrawn the red alert from several districts, but the aftereffects are ongoing and critical, ActionAid India said.
Its field assessment team has visited areas in and around Wayanad and held consultations with affected communities. ActionAid is also rolling out interventions in Alappuzha, Idduki, Pathanamthitta and Wayanad districts.
"Emergency situations affect vulnerable communities disproportionately. We need to recognise this reality, and reach out to people living in poverty and exclusion, and amongst them women, children, the elderly and people with disabilities," said Esther Maria Selvam, regional manager, ActionAid Tamil Nadu Regional Office.
ActionAid has also started mobilising funds for relief, recovery and rehabilitation, it added.
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