Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 21 August 2019

Tragedy in Kerala has ripple effects globally

The south Indian state has witnessed deadly floods for the second year in a row

Floods have killed at least 100 people and displaced hundreds of thousands across Kerala. AFP
Floods have killed at least 100 people and displaced hundreds of thousands across Kerala. AFP

In Kerala, hundreds of thousands of residents have been bracing themselves for the worst. The south Indian state has experienced heavy rainfall and flooding for the past week, claiming 95 lives and displacing another 100,000 people. Landslides, power cuts and water shortages add to the misery of those stranded amid high waters, many of whom now rely on food and aid that is being airlifted in by the military.

When misfortune hits Kerala, the effects of the catastrophe ripple beyond India’s borders, causing heartache and grief to the country’s considerable diaspora, chief among them the 3.3 million Indian residents of the UAE, most of whom hail from Kerala. The state’s economy relies heavily on remittances from loved ones working abroad. Their contribution to local communities are invaluable and becomes all the more crucial when disaster hits. But this comes at a cost. Increased power cuts mean that it has become difficult for Keralans abroad to reach their loved ones back home and make sure they are safe. “If you have older parents and you’re not there, you need to figure out a system where you can check in on them,” UAE resident Deepak Unnikrishnan told The National. Luckily, many Keralans can count on closely knit communities and a network of friends to check on parents and family at home.

This makes it all the more important for people on the ground to be prepared for the monsoon season by stocking up on food and water in case of shortages and moving to a place of safety whenever possible. There is more that could be done by the national and state government to educate the local population on how to protect themselves and their homes when such disasters occur. After last year's disaster, which claimed more than 350 lives and displaced 800,000 people, there have been more concerted efforts with a more co-ordinated disaster management strategy between different departments and a hotline for the public but more could still be done.

For those in the UAE, it is also possible to help by donating to organisations that provide aid to flood victims and to check on friends whose family members might be in the regions affected by the disaster. It is at times like this that they need our support, especially as floods have become increasingly common in south India. This begs the question of our collective responsibility to tackle climate change, at both a state and individual level. If we do not take action to curb this growing crisis, natural catastrophes such as the Keralan floods will become the new norm.

Updated: August 11, 2019 07:09 PM

SHARE

SHARE