80 year old Xiang and his wife woke, in the black of night, as rushing water poured into their village home, bringing down one of its aged walls. Heavy rains had seen a nearby river burst its banks and the elderly couple, in shock, only just escaped before its angry waters saw their house collapse. In minutes, they lost the possessions of decades.
Flooding is a tragic part of life in many parts of rural China and the poor, inevitably, are the hardest hit. Their smaller, less stable homes have less resilience to the ravaging flood waters, and they have little access to communication technology that could warn them of impending danger or equip them to seek help.
This year, once again, torrential rainfall is likely to cause widespread flooding in rural areas of China. And, once again, those already poor will pay the highest cost in the loss of homes, livelihoods, family members and their meagre possessions.
For some time now, Crossroads has been partnering with other organisations not only in disaster response, but also disaster preparation. The Hong Kong community has provided superb support as schools and community groups have helped us prepare consignments, providing, in particular, hygiene and other survival kits, together with much needed bedding and clothing.
Nature strikes with heartbreaking frequency in these areas, but, with emergency supplies in place beforehand, we have a greater chance of mitigating its tragic impact.
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Population: 1.35 billion
Population below international poverty line of US$1.25 per day: 11%, or 157 million people
China is experiencing rapid economic growth, but the benefits have not reached millions of people in rural areas. People who are already poor are the most vulnerable to death, injury and loss of livelihood when floods and earthquakes hit.
Natural disasters in China affect more than 200 million people every year.
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