How you can help some of the 40 million people in South Asia affected by floods and the changing climate
I have seen many communities overseas whose homes, livestock, crops and livelihoods have been washed away by floods. I've heard many people talking about unstable seasons and things being out of balance, not knowing when the rains will come for their harvest. That's what my last ten years working for Tearfund have been like, but now we are seeing floods in South Asia that are the worst in decades, worse than I've seen before. More than 1,000 people have been killed and millions left without shelter by extensive flooding across India, Nepal and Bangladesh.
This is one of the main reasons that I work to combat the changing climate – I want to reduce the impact of droughts and floods devastating people's lives, and ensure that people can increase their resilience. I believe that we are called to love our neighbours and look after the earth; I want to see people released from poverty, and if we want to beat poverty, we need to tackle climate change too.
Whilst we can't say for certain that these specific floods are directly caused by climate change, we know there is a clear relationship between climate change and severe, erratic weather patterns like the ones we are seeing here. We know that warmer sea and warmer air mean heavier rain and make floods more likely. This isn't unexpected. Monsoon rains are normal for South Asia at this time of year, but the scale of flooding this time is much bigger and more intense than in previous decades. Just take the impact on Bangladesh for example.
It's a huge injustice that people are pushed deeper into poverty by a changing climate, when they've contributed the least to the problem. More than 30 million people have been affected in India and more than 12,000 schools have been damaged in the state of Bihar. Now, we are seeing more than 600,000 people forced to flee their homes in Bangladesh. Around 65,000 homes and 70 schools have been destroyed in Nepal.
Purna BK lives in Rupandehi District, Nepal, with his wife Maya, three young children and Maya's elderly Mother. Purna works as a construction worker, doing hard manual labour to provide for his family's needs.
It was midnight when Maya awoke to find water engulfing their house, which was constructed from mud. As the walls began to collapse around them, they frantically began to gather their important belongings together.
It was hardest for Purna's wife Maya. How would she feed her three little children and her elderly mother now? There was no remaining food and the flood waters had risen to such an extent that it was impossible to get around.
As many thousands of families face similar desperate circumstances, UMN and its partner NASSO in Rupandehi were able to deliver emergency relief. Purna shares, 'I had never thought there are people out there who understand our pain and care for us and the terrible situation we are in. We have food and hope for the family now, and also useful things like soap and a mattress.'
Tearfund and our partners are on the ground now, and will stay for as long as it takes. Once people's short-term needs have been provided for, we will be there to help people rebuild their lives and plan for the future. Our resilience work will continue to train and equip communities to be prepared for disasters such as this.
Please pray for the millions affected by the flooding.
Jo Khinmaung-Moore is senior policy adviser at Tearfund. Any support is welcomed. People can give as the charity continues its response to reach those who are most in need. Find out how to speak up together and put faith into action to see lives restored in a time of climate change on the Tearfund Action page. Follow on Twitter @Tearfund.