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South Asia floods 2004


  • The worst floods in decades hit South Asia in June 2004. Around 1,800 people died and 70 million people were affected across the region.
  • Not only did millions of people lose their homes in the floods but they also lost their means of survival, their crops and land having all but disappeared due to river erosion.
  • Thanks to funding from the British Red Cross, our colleagues in India and Bangladesh were better prepared to respond to the floods than they had been previously. Pre-stocked relief supplies were distributed to affected families within days instead of months, and hundreds of volunteers had been trained in advance to help with the distribution of relief goods and support search and rescue operations.

The International Red Cross response

Man, woman and child sitting on boatThe Red Cross responded immediately to the disaster in June 2004, thanks to its local network of volunteers and staff in Bangladesh, Nepal and India. These volunteers distributed food and essential relief items like kitchen sets, lighting, clothing, shelter materials and water purification tablets. They also provided healthcare and supported search and rescue operations.

On 27 July, the Red Cross, led by the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies, launched an appeal for over £4 million on behalf of all three countries. The appeal helped almost 1.5 million people with food, shelter, clean water, clothing and other essential goods, as well as basic healthcare.


The Bangladesh Red Crescent Society helped one million people affected by the floods by providing basic food items, family kits, medical services and small-scale agricultural support.


A woman and child in floodwaterThe Indian Red Cross Society met the urgent needs of the worst affected families in Assam and Bihar with food, shelter, family packs and medical services. In the longer-term it introduced initiatives such as the construction of a flood platform, which provided people and their livestock with somewhere safe to shelter from the floodwaters.


The Nepal Red Cross Society helped those in need initially by providing food and family packages and in the longer-term distributing seeds or construction material to help people get back on their feet.

The British Red Cross response

The British Red Cross launched the Asia Floods Appeal on Thursday 29 July 2004 to support the Red Cross' ongoing relief operations in the region. The appeal raised £186,732.

The British Red Cross continues to support disaster preparedness programmes in Bangladesh and India. These programmes look at ways to prepare disaster-prone communities through a number of mitigation projects and by training local volunteers to help the affected communities prepare for and respond to disasters. These skilled volunteers played a crucial role in responding to the floods by distributing relief and supporting search and rescue operations.

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