Swept Away: The Danger of Flooding in Developing Nations

Home > Learn More > Stories & News > Swept Away: The Danger of Flooding in Developing Nations

Posted on 9/10/2013
Flooding in Manila is a common and destructive occurrence.
Flooding in Manila, capital of the Philippines, is a common and destructive occurrence.

Few forces of nature are as powerful as floods. Whether caused by hurricanes or typhoons, excessive rainfall after a drought or changes in tidal patterns, floods can devastate lives in mere hours. In countries prone to flooding, such as the Philippines, India and Vietnam, these natural disasters often cause extensive damage and displace thousands of families. ChildFund works in these countries to provide emergency assistance and flood control to families affected by flooding, and every minute counts in the wake of these deadly disasters.

The Philippines

Located between the Philippine and South China seas, the more than 7,000 islands that comprise the Philippines are particularly vulnerable to flooding, especially in monsoon season. Tropical rains often cause rivers to burst their banks, resulting in entire communities being swept away. More than one-quarter of the Philippines' 34 million children live below the poverty line, and it is often these children who are most seriously affected by flooding and other natural disasters.

Recently, Typhoon Maring wreaked havoc in the Philippines, particularly in Pasay, a city located near the capital of Manila. Many children in Pasay are enrolled in ChildFund's child sponsorship program, and in the wake of Typhoon Maring, emergency assistance has been provided to more than 6,000 families in the area, including 806 families with sponsored children. Food, water and other essentials were distributed to families affected in Pasay thanks to our Emergency Action Fund, which allows ChildFund to act quickly after natural disasters.


Flooding in India has been devastating in recent years, with the country experiencing several floods. More than 2 million people across 19 districts of Orissa, located on India's east coast, were affected by heavy flooding in 2011, and more than 5,700 people were missing and presumed dead in the wake of floods in the northern province of Uttarakhand earlier this year. Flooding affected families in three districts where ChildFund works.

Following flooding, the most urgent forms of disaster relief for affected families are food, drinking water and blankets to stay warm. Our Emergency Action Fund helps provide families with these vital supplies in the wake of natural disasters, and in the long term, also supports rebuilding efforts. Floods do not just damage homes -- they also disrupt sanitation systems and other pieces of critical infrastructure that families need to survive. Allocations from our Emergency Action Fund also provide ongoing psychosocial support to children suffering from emotional distress. Fleeing their homes and seeing their precious belongings swept away by flood waters can be psychologically devastating, particularly to children, making this aspect of our work in developing nations particularly important over the long term.


Another Southeast Asian nation that is particularly prone to flooding is Vietnam. Tropical monsoons often deposit vast quantities of rainwater on rural regions during the country's monsoon season between May and September, placing families living in poverty at high risk. Urban areas also face great danger of flooding during the monsoon season, especially Ho Chi Minh City.

This sprawling metropolis is interwoven with rivers and tributaries that can easily overflow in heavy rains, and according to the Asian Development Bank, more than 70 percent of the city remains at high risk of flooding despite efforts by the World Bank to provide infrastructural development assistance such as stormwater protection systems.

ChildFund provides aid and support to children in need and their families in some of the world's poorest countries, and this need is often greatest in the aftermath of natural disasters like floods. To help us continue our efforts in disaster relief, please consider making a donation to our Emergency Action Fund so we can provide lifesaving assistance to families affected by these destructive events.