Main Navigation

India floods 2008

More than two months after a devastating monsoon season caused widespread flooding in areas of India, many residents now have clean water to drink.

Two Australian Red Cross aid workers travelled to Assam to set up one of our 'Nomad' water treatment units, which can produce up to 5,000 litres of purified water an hour.

Clean water a priority after flooding

A lack of access to clean water and sanitation compounds the misery of flood-affected communities through the spread of potentially fatal, but wholly preventable, waterborne diseases. At the height of the floods in India:

  • 2.5 million people over 21 districts in Assam were affected, with around 57,000 people seeking refuge in relief camps.
  • 4.7 million people in Bihar were affected, with more than 240,000 seeking shelter in emergency relief camps after their homes were destroyed or damaged.
  • Around 180 medical teams were on the ground to manage water-borne diseases and vaccinate children against measles.


'I was saddened by what I saw in flood-affected villages. Some houses have been destroyed, others are badly damaged and knee-deep with mud and water,' says Red Cross water and sanitation expert Paul Byleveld.

'The villagers usually collect drinking water from wells close to their houses. After the flooding, people could not reach their wells and were forced to drink flood water. Some fell sick with fever, diarrhoea and hepatitis.'

Your generous donation helped to make sure our disaster response team was on the ground in Assam soon after the disaster struck, with the portable Nomad water treatment unit.

Water from the river is filtered and the resulting safe drinking water distributed through a portable 'tap stand' with six taps.

'I am very happy with the water, it is as clear as glass,' one woman told our aid workers as she filled her container from the tap stand.

Nomad still pumping

Australian Red Cross has trained local Indian Red Cross to use the Nomad, which has been left in India permanently to provide ongoing clean water for hospitals and for future emergencies. Funds raised through the India Floods Appeal assisted the Indian Red Cross in their relief efforts.

India floods appeal 2008

The India floods appeal is now closed, however millions of people around the world are still vulnerable to natural disasters. You can help the neediest communities overseas by donating to 'where the international need is greatest' (select this option from the drop down menu on the donations form).

Donations to the India Floods Appeal 2008 appeal will:

  • support the relief and recovery needs of households and communities in India affected by the floods, including clean water and sanitation.
  • Assist the Red Cross Society of India to prepare and respond to this and future emergencies.

Australian Red Cross will not deduct more than 10% of any donation for an international appeal to cover appeal costs. Should the funds raised exceed the amount required to meet the immediate and longer term needs of the people in the affected areas, Australian Red Cross will direct the excess funds to other emergency preparedness and response initiatives in the Asia Pacific region.

The disaster response team nomad water module

Our water treatment module:

  • Filters up to 5,000 litres of clean water per hour from a nearby river.
  • Meets the needs of 500 displaced people and a nearby camp of construction workers assisting with the recovery effort.
  • Is lightweight and easy to use - local Red Cross staff are trained to operate it, and it will remain in Assam after the crisis has passed.
  • Was officially given to Indian Red Cross on 29 September, and they will decide on its permanent location.


The emergency phase of any relief operation aims to save and secure lives by providing basics like shelter, clean water, sanitation, food and basic health care. A lack of access to clean water and sanitation can compound the misery of disaster-affected populations through the spread of potentially fatal, but wholly preventable waterborne diseases.

Our disaster response team water unit is made up of highly skilled logisticians, water specialists and public health experts who may also have training in electrics, plumbing or construction. These technical specialists have standardised, pre-packed equipment on hand and are available to respond to disaster-affected communities across Australia and throughout the Asia Pacific within hours of disaster striking.

The team can be deployed within hours of a disaster striking. Once on the ground, the equipment can be operating within an hour. The water module is highly portable - it fits on a small vehicle or boat. It's also flexible - it can provide up to 45,000 litres of water per day in one location, or can provide thousands of litres per day in up to nine different locations.

These modules have helped thousands of people in Papua New Guinea in late 2007, and one of our modules is currently operating in Myanmar after Cyclone Nargis devastated the Ayeyarwady Delta in May 2008.

Download the December 2008 update for donors
[file size: 6.7MB/type: PDF]


Media release: Red Cross launches appeal to help those devastated by widespread flooding in Northern India (10/09/08)

International Federation of Red Cross Red Crescent Societies

Media release: Massive flood relief operation underway(17/09/08)
Media release: Bihar floods displace more families and take more lives (04/09/08)
Media release: Situation worsens by the day (01/09/08)
India: monsoon floods wreak havoc (22/08/08)

Indian Red Cross Society website