In May 2016 a flood hit a village in the district of Rudaki.
“At 2am we heard announcements that we needed to get out of our houses. A town upriver had called our village to warn us that a flash flood was coming. It was too late to leave however. Water was rushing into our front room. Somehow I had the crazy idea to break a hole into the ceiling and lift my family members into the roof of the house. The water rose quickly and came close to our hiding place, but it worked; our house was totally destroyed, but all fifteen of us survived.”
The quick thinking of this father - who for most of the year lives and works in Russia in order to support his family - as well as the well-placed phone call from the town up river, most likely saved hundreds of lives.
Nevertheless, according to official data of the Committee of Emergency Situations, 2 500 households in the Rudaki district were affected by the flood, a total of 17 000 people. Half of these people were displaced from their flood-ravaged homes.
The floods hit villages just twenty minutes outside of the capital, in the district of Rudaki, in the early hours of May 12. The Rudaki district is one of Operation Mercy’s focus districts in Tajikistan. We have a long history of community development in the district, including a large community-based rehabilitation project as well as multiple projects in health, education, and agriculture. In the aftermath of this flood, we supported the community in meeting their essential needs as quickly as possible.
A few days after the flood, we distributed the first 150 hygiene kits containing towels, soap, washing powder, toothbrushes and toothpaste, and female hygiene products. For some of the families all their clothes, documents, schoolbooks, and sleeping mats were destroyed along with animals, fields and other sources of livelihood.
After seeing more of the situation, we bought 150 pairs of rubber boots as well as more dish detergent, which was crucial in making sure waterborne diseases didn’t spread as people dug their dishes and kitchens out of meter-high mud.