In July 2012, violent clashes erupted between the Bodo and Muslim communities causing close to 100 deaths and displacement of about 4,00,000 people in the districts of Chirang, Kokrajhar and Dhubri of western Assam. The clashes involved killings and arson of dwellings in both communities. While the central and state governments responded to the situation, establishing and maintaining relief camps across three districts, the displaced populations continued to live with limited access to essential services and grave health risks. Initial assessments by humanitarian agencies revealed un-favourable environmental hygiene conditions, with heightened risks of water-borne diseases amongst the population. While food rations were being provided, this only included lentils, rice and salt and were reported to be insufficient in quantity, in addition to being nutritionally inadequate. The limitations on movement, perceptions of insecurity, high density of population in the camps and underlying vulnerabilities of the displaced populations created further challenges for meeting the needs of the people.
What is DFY Doing/Did
In this context, Doctors for You, with support from The Tata Institute of Social Sciences, intervened in the area responding to health needs of displaced population living in relief camp.
- An initial rapid assessment was carried out in early August, following which the Minimum Initial Service Package project was implemented towards ensuring reproductive health rights of the women and adolescent girls in the camps.
- In response to other emerging needs, nutrition and water quality monitoring was carried out in selected camps specific efforts towards advocacy through using this data.
- The nutrition surveillance included MUAC tests, height and weight, immunisation and dietary information.
- WASH data included information about the structure, location and disinfection status of water sources in camps.
- Water-quality testing was also done using Hydrogen Sulphide tests.
- In addition to the surveillance, essential dietary information was provided to mothers of Severely Acute Malnourished (SAM) / Moderately Acute Malnourished (MAM) children. SAM children were referred to the nutritional rehabilitation centre (NRC), where present, or the public health centre; and hygiene promotion activities were carried out with children in every camp.
- In Chirang district, data from the nutrition surveillance was presented to the District Administration. This resulted in immediate action, whereby nutritious packages were procured in consultation with the NRC and distributed to families with SAM children.