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India floods - Emergency appeal

  • Subject: [cg] India floods - Emergency appeal
  • From: Laura Berman laura@foodshare.net
  • Date: Sun, 05 Oct 2003 19:56:56 -0400

Forwarded by Diverse Women for Diversity
Date: Wed, 17 Sep 2003 01:18:13 -1000
From: viviane <vlerner@interpac.net>
Subject: FW: Urgent Press release: India floods - Emergency appeal

URGENT PRESS RELEASE from GLOBAL WOMEN'S STRIKE, contact: 020  7482 2496.
Please publicise this urgent appeal as widely as possible.

Global warming, the construction of massive dams and disregard for human
life in other ways are together causing floods that are again claiming
thousands of lives in India.  Among the victims this time are the village
women of the Chhattisgarh Women's Organisation (CWO) and their families.

In the Eastern states of Chhattisgarh, Orissa and Madhya Pradesh, torrential
rains continue to cause severe flooding.  All 15 rivers in Chhattisgarh,
known as the rice bowl of India, have overflowed.  When the Hirakund dam,
the longest in Asia, threatened to burst, the sluice gates were opened,
flooding thousands of homes.  Over one million families are now struggling
to survive.  Dalit and Tribal people, always the poorest, have been the
worst affected, above all single mothers many of whom are widows.  Many,
especially children, have died.  Before this tragedy, drought and
temperatures of over 50C (much worse than the heat wave that caused
thousands of deaths in France and England) had already claimed many lives.

Our sisters in CWO, a self-help organisation of rural Dalit and Tribal
women, told us "If you could see it, you would cry."  Bodies are hanging in
trees where they were swept by the floods.  Whole villages of homes made of
earth have been destroyed, leaving thousands destitute.  People are trying
to take shelter in the local Panchayats (village councils) but these cannot
accommodate everyone.  In addition to losing precious loved ones, families
face the total loss of their few belongings, and have no income to replace

This is particularly painful as CWO women have painstakingly organised grain
banks which for years have kept families in 400 villages from starvation.
When the harvest is good every family contributes some surplus grain, so
that in times of general famine or individual hardship, women can continue
to feed their families and do not have to depend on uncertain food aid or on
extortionate moneylenders to buy grain at inflated prices.  Now they face
starvation as these collective grain stores as well as rice, dahl and
vegetable crops are ruined, and cows and goats have died.  There are no
medical facilities to cope with the spreading viral fever, diarrhoea and
other illnesses from unclean water and sewage. The few places that had
electricity are now without, preventing among other things vital email
communication to get the news out and apply for help.

The national government has not organised any emergency relief.  But it has
this past week spent 1 billion on 66 Hawk Jets.  One church agency is
helping in 20 villages but there are 300 villages in one district of
Chhattisgarh alone, and international aid agencies are absent.  Local
government help is limited to 200-500 rupees, (3-7) and even that goes
only to a few homeless families, and a one-off ration of 3-5kg of rice.  As
in the recent flood in Argentina, corruption by officials is widespread.
They have been refusing the meagre compensation to households headed by
women and are as usual discriminating against Dalit and Tribal families.

CWO is known to many outside of India, as every year it brings together over
5,000 women and girls, as well as men and boys who support them, to be part
of the Global Women's Strike.  Now our brave and organised sisters are
walking for miles to find out what is happening and needed in each village,
as roads are impassable. Those who still have homes are housing and feeding
families with nothing.  They and other grassroots community organisations
are pressing local and national government to provide much more help and
save lives.
We are raising money for our sisters in Chhattishgarh because
* They are in the best position to help as they are using their long
established village-to-village network to get the essentials for survival:
what women need to feed and clothe their communities, and as soon as the
flood goes down, to rebuild their homes.
* They have a track record of fighting corruption, rape and other injustices
imposed by government, police and employers, always struggling against
tribal and caste divisions within their communities, on the basis of women's

The plight of these rural communities is being kept out of the news.  We
urge you to send as much as you can as soon as you can.   Women in Dialogue,
which fundraises for our Indian sisters as well as other Third World women,
is taking charge of administering and passing on all the money collected to
minimise bank fees, and where possible, maximise donations by claiming tax
relief. (If you are a tax-payer, please let us know as we can increase the
value of your donation without any extra cost to yourself.)

Invest in caring not killing.

The Global Women's Strike
Email: womenstrike8m@server101.com

Donations in pounds sterling:  Please send your cheque to:
Women in Dialogue India Flood Appeal, Crossroads Women's Centre, 230a
Kentish Town Road, London NW5 2AB, England, UK.
Or transfer a pound sterling payment direct from your account to:
Women in Dialogue, account no. 85111260, sort code: 77-91-13, bank: Lloyds
TSB, 106 Kilburn High Road, London NW6 4HY, England.

Donations in US dollars.  Please send your cheque to:
Women in Dialogue India Flood Appeal, Crossroads Women's Centre, PO Box
11795, Philadelphia, PA 19101, USA

*** NOTICE: In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107, this material is
distributed without profit to those who have expressed a prior interest in
receiving the included information for research and educational purposes.***

Diverse Women for Diversity
A-60, Hauz Khas, New Delhi- 16
Tel:91 11 26561868, 26698077
Fax: 91 11 26562093

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