Thailand's worst flooding in 50 years


By Chattip Soralump Residents flee the floods in Bangkok The recent floods in Thailand have affected around nine million people (c) REUTERS/ Bazuki Muhammad Since July, Thailand has suffered the worst floods in five decades.

One third of the country's provinces has been devastated, nearly 400 people have been killed and around nine million people affected.

The Prime Minister, Yingluck Shinawatra has spoken out, saying:

"The amount of water is extraordinary and beyond any expectation".

Millions have lost their homes

Some 62 of the country's 76 provinces have so far been affected and millions of people have lost their homes. The agricultural industry has been badly hit as three million acres (1.2 million hectares) of farmland has been damaged by the flood water.

As thousands are living in makeshift camps and evacuation centres, the threat of yet more flooding is still high. Some parts of Bangkok, Thailand's capital city and its suburbs are flooded; land, businesses, homes and possessions destroyed.

Thailand is the second most aged country in Southeast Asia. Older people over 60 account for over 10% of the entire population and projections point towards a population of older people exceeding that of children under 15 years old in just ten years.

Huge response to the floods

The national and provincial government agencies are working tirelessly to assist people in need. The Thai Red Cross is also providing relief items to the affected population.

In addition, hundreds of civil society groups are delivering food and water on a daily basis and are raising funds locally for those who have lost everything. The response is one of the biggest seen in recent times in the region.

The prolonged and serious nature of the floods is particularly affecting older people, according to our local partners. Many have lost a lifetime of belongings and are suffering from emotional trauma. In some places the flood water has already been there for a month and there is no sign of it receding.

Supporting people to rebuild their homes

Godfred Paul, Senior Programme Manager, for HelpAge International in East Asia and Pacific said:

"We are working with local partners on the ground to deliver essential food, water and basic needs, because the most urgent needs to help older people, are currently not being met.

"HelpAge's partner, the Foundation for Older Persons' Development (FOPDEV), is carrying out assessments in Ayuthaya and Pathum Thani, and we plan to support the rebuilding of houses. HelpAge is also sharing information on the specific needs of older people during emergencies with its partners in Thailand who are responding.

"More definitely needs to be done, especially relief assistance and aid recovery as it could take up to six weeks for these catastrophic flood waters to recede. Food and water shortages are also still a problem in remote areas."

The floods have killed at least 373 people since July and disrupted the lives of nearly 2.5 million, with more than 113,000 in shelters and 720,000 seeking medical attention.

Richard Blewitt, CEO, HelpAge International said:

"In an emergency, older people's lives are affected by; inaccessible food distribution points, rations that are too heavy to carry or too difficult to digest and a tendency to share their rations with family members. Relief agencies often fail to recognise the needs of older people, even when they are caring for children.

"Minor conditions can quickly become major handicaps. Older people are often less able or willing to flee quickly. Even common conditions, like heart disease and diabetes, deteriorate rapidly without adequate assessment and medication."

What can I do?

Our sister organisation Age UK has launched aThailand appeal. HelpAge will receive these funds to help older people and their families affected by floods.

We would be very grateful if you would donate to Age UK's Thailand appeal. Thank you very much.

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Thailand appeal

Click here to donate (Reuters/Kerek Wongsa)

Our sister organisation Age UK has launched a Thailand appeal. HelpAge will receive these funds to help older people affected by the flooding. Please support our work by donating to the Age UK Thailand appeal.

Thank you very much

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