The Assam State Disaster Management Authority (ASDMA) on Monday issued a special Covid-19 advisory for the people who will stay in temporary shelters, other than government relief camps, during flood. The guidelines include formation of a committee for each such camp, which will act as a liaison between the affected people and the administration so that they can smoothly get facilities such as Covid-19 testing, vaccination, sanitisation and tents for suspected coronavirus cases.
Requests for gratuitous relief shall be placed before the local administration by the committee and distribution of relief and essential items shall be coordinated by maintaining social distancing norms, according to the advisory. "While government encourages flood affected people to take shelter in formal relief camps, any informal temporary shelters that may come into being during floods, must follow Covid Appropriate Behaviours and protocols," the advisory said.
A large part of Assam's geographical area is prone to deluge and more than one wave of flood ravage this zone almost every year. On an average, 30 to 40 lakh people have been affected each year by floods in the state during the last 10 years, according to an ASDMA release.
A section of the affected people stay at relief camps operated by the local administration, while many prefer alternative temporary shelters set up on high platforms, roads and embankments, and the advisory has been issued for such alternative arrangements. A shelter coordination committee in each camp has to be formed and its members will be nominated by the inmates, with adequate representation of women, adolescents and young people and elderly to coordinate with the local administration, the advisory said.
The local administration must be notified about the existence of all temporary shelters at the earliest. The committee will arrange Covid-19 testing and health check-up of inmates with the help of the health department, according to the advisory.
The committee may also arrange Covid-19 vaccination camps for the inmates with the help of District Immunisation Officers. The inmates should be adequately sensitised by local administration on the ASDMA advisory and Covid appropriate behaviour to be adopted in such temporary shelters. Daily sanitisation of the temporary shelters shall be ensured by the local administration and one team per shelter or one team for a group of adjacent shelters shall be assigned for the purpose, the advisory said.
A distance of at least 6 feet shall be ensured between two tents, as per the advisory. The per-person covered space of 7 square metres shall be maintained within a tent as far as possible and the administration shall provide sufficient tarpaulins to each family to ensure that.
One or two extra tents shall be made functional through the administration to keep any person showing symptoms of Covid-19 in the temporary shelters, or people who were in home isolation. However, if an inmate is found Covid-19 positive during their stay in a temporary shelter, the person must be sent to the nearby government Covid care centre immediately, the advisory said.
Toilet and hand pump would be separately installed along with separate pits/ closed dustbins for menstrual hygiene management in isolation tents. Sanitary napkins will be provided free of cost in such temporary shelters, with provisions for their safe disposal. Wearing face masks would be mandatory at such temporary shelters and the site should have a covered common mask disposal bin. At least one triple-layer mask should be given free of cost to the camp inmates from the District Disaster Management Authority per day.
Adequate handwashing facilities at entry and exit and other locations depending upon the total population in such temporary shelters must be made. Separate toilets for male and female inmates have to be provided in the camp along with separate toilets for people with disability and elderly persons.
If a community level kitchen is organised, due care shall be taken for cleaning of the raw food items and hygienic cooking. Adequate water arrangement for providing minimum 20 litres of water per person, display of emergency phone numbers and proper lighting arrangements must also be ensured, as per the advisory. A separate tent shall be earmarked for children and lactating mothers.
The shelter coordination committee shall also make a list of those needing special support, such as pregnant women, lactating mothers, infants and young children, elderly, persons with disability and serious medical condition. Due care shall be taken to manage and safe disposal of garbage generated in the shelters following guidelines of solid and liquid waste management.