The FP053A BANJIR Relief & Rescue Campaign, in collaboration with Doctors on Ground (DnG) and IKQRAM Prihatin, was conducted from 13 Jan — 15 Jan 2023 in the programme’s East Coast Chapter of Kelantan. It was categorised as a Phase 2 initiative to prioritise cleaning and rebuilding efforts for the affected communities.
The primary issue commonly identified during this phase is the disregard for restoring and repairing furniture, household items and other appliances that were ruined by the floods. It is important to note that these items have not only served a practical purpose, but, when repaired and cleaned, could also help to restore a sense of dignity to the victims. It is important for relief efforts to not only focus on providing the basic necessities, but also on restoring a sense of normalcy to the lives of those affected by the disaster.
During the programme, the team had visited almost 30 families within the area. These consisted of both young and old families, children and pregnant women, and the ageing folk. When asked, there was a mutual understanding among these families that the worsening floods were a result of the poorly-built barrier constructed by the river a few years ago.
They, additionally, mentioned that any form of monetary compensation provided by the local government was only amounted to RM1,000 per family, regardless of how many household members there are, or how much loss they may account for — with some reporting almost RM20,000 for loss in technology, appliances and other assets.
There was also no report on any state-run initiative to prepare the villagers for the floods, highlighting the lack of effective disaster management and preparedness for that area in the state-level.
During the floods, water had reached the ceiling of most homes, raising approximately 8–9 metres high. This was for the case of the builds which were on stilts, while most, if not all, are made of part wood and concrete — a few were completely washed away. The inside of these home had mostly been cleaned out, or were in the process of cleaning, but many household items and appliances were discarded on the lawns outside. It merged together with other discarded items, and garbage bags from across the neighbourhood, that were all washed up during the flooding.
This is a common issue in flood response campaigns, where external organisations tend to centralise their manpower in emptying and sanitising the homes, but in the process, throwing away all furniture and household items.
The team had also observed that the water pressure for most of these homes were low. This made it difficult for some families to clean their homes efficiently. There were several cases of women perched on their porches with bucket-loads of laundry that needed to be cleaned.
Moreover, the wooden doors and windows of many homes were visibly damaged, and there were a growing number of complaints on waterborne diseases and distress among the residents.
The joint teams of DnG x IKQRAM Prihatin conducted a series of cleaning projects, starting with the household items dumped outside of the homes, clearing the surrounding compound, rewiring and replacing ruined bulbs, restoring broken windows, and distributing food and medicine.
The campaign concluded with proposed solutions to better prepare lower-income communities such as these ones found in Kelantan’s outskirts.
- To increase the existing financial assistance, and to expand it to both Malaysian and non-Malaysian / documented residents affected by the disaster; and to have it delivered timely and appropriately to ensure that families have the means to recover
- To better waste and disposal systems, especially after a flood, to decrease the risks of health issues within the communities
- To encourage the donor / sponsor of building and repairing materials for families to rebuild their homes
- To invest in better governance between local community leaders and representatives with residents and external organisations, to ensure effective communication pre, during and post-disasters
The observations suggest the importance of relief efforts to expand their campaigns in restoration and resilience, especially towards establishing a sense of normalcy to the lives of those affected by the disaster. The campaign, additionally, highlighted the need for effective disaster management and preparedness, including proper compensation and preparation for floods.
The team’s collaboration with Doctors on Ground (DnG) and IKQRAM Prihatin was crucial in identifying these issues and proposing solutions to address them.