Children Falling Ill with Thousands More at Risk as Waters Flood Central Bangkok, Warns Save the Children

Flood victims on Thailand need emergency relief.

Flooding in Don Meung, one of the northern suburbs of Bangkok which has been hard hit by Thailand's worst flooding in five decades, has killed at least 356 people and affected nearly 2.5 million. More than 100,000 people are living in temporary shelters and about 700,000 are seeking medical attention. Photo Credit: Patrick Brown/Save the Children

As reports come in on flooding now entering Central Bangkok, Save the Children warns that children are falling ill from diseases such as severe diarrhoea, with thousands more at risk as exposure from filthy floodwaters is on the rise.

Assessment teams from the charity have found that running water has been completely cut off from some areas. Even in some evacuation centres where some families have fled to there is no access to clean water.

“Families with young children staying at makeshift evacuation centres are facing serious health concerns with little access to clean water,” said Stephen McDonald, Save the Children’s emergency director in Bangkok.

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“One family of fourteen we spoke to said that all but one of them has had serious diarrhea for several days in a row. Nai, 19 months old, has such severe diarrhea that he can no longer walk. I have two young children of my own, and I would be heartbroken if they were subject to these conditions,” added McDonald.

Save the Children says while floodwaters in some parts of the city are clearly unclean — with teams having seen rubbish and even excrement floating in floodwaters — children continue to wade through and play in the flooded streets and alleys.

Making matters worse, there has been an increase in reports of snakes and crocodiles lurking in filthy floodwater. 

Thailand is facing its worst flood crisis in half a century, with standing water covering much of the north of the country, and an estimated 800,000 children directly affected even before Central Bangkok started to be flooded.

Save the Children teams have been conducting assessments and operations in Bangkok and in other parts of Thailand since mid-October and are reporting that health risks are of major concern as access to clean water for these families has been extremely limited.

We are providing supplies for the hardest to reach families in Thailand, and is working flat out to support families in evacuations centers, while also providing essential hygiene items to help prevent the spread of disease.

“Funding is proving to be difficult, and the needs are vast. Unless we get support soon, then children and families in Thailand will likely suffer for months to come,” said McDonald.

The agency has appealed for US$ 5 million for its initial response to the severe flooding that has spread across Thailand and is now hitting Bangkok. Funds raised will go to helping families secure access to proper sanitation services, keeping children safe from disease and in the longer term, ensuring children’s access to education and helping families regain their access to a steady income so that even once floodwaters recede, parents are able make ends meet and get food on the table.

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