Heavy monsoon rains in the upstream regions and incessant onrush of water from upstream over the last weeks inundated 21 northern, north-eastern and south-eastern districts in Bangladesh affecting over 3.3 million people. So far 93 people have lost their lives, mostly from drowning where nearly half of the victims are children.
The flood situation is deteriorating at a time when many are still reeling from the shock of Cyclone Amphan that damaged houses, crops and infrastructure last May. The pandemic has made the situation even more challenging to respond. Many roads and bridges are cut off and hundreds of thousands of people are now stranded. Many have moved to boats as temporary abode given the consistent rise of water levels.
CARE Bangladesh has already initiated response and recovery with its implementing partners and working closely with the government functionaries. In technical partnership with Centre for Environmental and Geographic Information Services, CARE is undertaking the River Bank Erosion Based Anticipatory Response project to protect and reduce the loss and damage of vulnerable communities from the devastating impacts of riverbank erosion.
In some inundated locations, CARE has built drum raft to ensure uninterrupted mobility for people to move faster. “To cross the canal, earlier we had to travel 4 kilometers. Now we can go to the other side by the new drum raft with our luggage, bicycles and other things. We are very happy to have this raft. It is very helpful”, shared Abdul Karim, a villager from Gaibandha district.
CARE is also providing infrastructure related support in some areas. “There are water all around. People have taken refuge on this higher ground. Earlier, there was no toilet facility here. But CARE Bangladesh came forward and now it’s benefitting all, especially women and girls.” Mukta Akter from Kurigram district stated.
With support from UNFPA, CARE distributed nearly 3000 dignity kits to flood affected women and girls of reproductive age and the transgender community in Kurigram and Gaibandha districts. These dignity kits are expected to protect them from COVID-19 even when they leave home for flood shelters. Given the pandemic, CARE is taking additional measures to reduce the risk of transmission during evacuation and in flood shelters.
“Flood situation is worsening rapidly while waterborne diseases are spreading in some areas. People are already battered by COVID-19 and river erosion is taking devastating turn in some regions”- shares Ramesh Singh, CARE Bangladesh Country Director.
“It is encouraging to note that Bangladesh Government has taken a series of measures and UN is closely supporting the government response. CARE Bangladesh is doing all it can to respond to the crisis. As experts have predicted floods may continue till mid-August and concerted efforts are needed from all quarters involving community, NGOs, UN agencies, donors under the leadership of government.”- added Ramesh Singh.
“This year, Bangladesh is in a critical and complex situation dealing with multiple disasters amidst COVID-19 pandemic. Since the beginning of July, CARE Bangladesh has engaged in anticipatory approach by using forecast based information to take early actions, prior to the flood, to reduce losses and damages. So far, we have evacuated people to flood shelters and safe spaces, disseminated forecasts and risk information, prepared community-level WASH points around evacuation points, repaired and installed latrines, and provided dignity kits and cash support to most vulnerable households in high risk locations. Given this prolonged flood, CARE is working persistently to meet the urgent needs during this humanitarian crisis”, shared Kaiser Rejve, Director, Humanitarian and Resilience Program, CARE Bangladesh.
As part of recovery and response activity, CARE plans to do cash transfer, distribution of non-food items, provide support to construct home shelters and offer services related to gender-based violence (GBV) and Sexual Reproductive Health Rights (SRHR).
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