How to support an India diocese battered by floods, COVID-19

November 11, 2020

photo by the Diocese of Vijayawada

Like many communities around the world, the Diocese of Vijayawada in India was already struggling with the COVID-19 pandemic last month when their situation grew even worse.

Hit by torrential rains, the community is now struggling with severe flooding and the COVID-19 pandemic. Ray Kancharla, a veteran of humanitarian projects, is assisting the diocese with the recovery and took time to talk about the devastation and how people can help.

What has happened?

Due to torrential rains, hundreds of villages across the coastal area of Bay of Bengal were severely flooded, and water has inundated the villages for several weeks.

At least 67 severely affected villages were accessed by field-level volunteers, and a needs assessment has been carried out. The far flung rural communities were stranded without safe drinking water, sanitation, food, and other critical needs such as safe shelter.

This is a disaster over an already existing disaster, the coronavirus pandemic. Many of these villages had cases of COVID-19 and are still petrified.

This severe localized flooding is a phenomena of climate change, as established by the scientific community.

How can the global Catholic community assist?

Global community can assist by providing resources so that the Diocese of Vijayawada can provide rapid relief that the severely affected communities require. Diocese has launched a relief mission called Karuna Sagar (ocean of love).

Where can they assist?

Immediate requirements are medical / health camp; food basket, adequate for at least one month including children related nutrition items; hygiene and household utility kits; and livestock feeding and care.

As people have lost agriculture due to this untimely rain, they need a recovery plan to get some jobs and livelihood opportunities.

Agricultural support is needed for planting Rabi crops, which will happen [this month], so that they can get the next crop, to prevent hunger and starvation.

(For more information on how to help, visit the Diocese of Vijayawada website here.)

What does Laudato Si’ mean to you all?

The Diocese of Vijayawada has committed itself to transform itself as a Laudato Si’ Diocese. From the month of July, I have been supporting Bishop Raja Rao and the diocese towards initiating this.

We are developing a long-term program of five to seven years, towards this transformation by implementing Laudato si and Fratelli Tutti.

How much of a threat is the climate crisis to you all now?

The climate threat is clear and present. In the coastal areas, sea level intrusion is a strong reality. Salinity is increasing; and impacting agriculture at the local level.

Since agriculture, which has been their traditional survival resource, is not yielding enough, people are beginning to migrate in search of jobs and livelihoods. This is causing a huge displacement.