Floods may affect 7.5m people

Surrounded by floods, a man has a meal in his small shop in Jamalpur, Bangladesh, 18 July 2020.
Surrounded by floods, a man has a meal in his small shop in Jamalpur, Bangladesh, 18 July 2020. Reuters

it does not seem that The flood water level in the northern districts of the country has been declining, but heavy downpours have already begun along the upstream in India. The onrush of water from upstream may worsen the flood situation in the country further in two days, according to the Flood Forecasting and Warning Centre (FFWC).

Floods may worsen in the northern region and in Sylhet from Tuesday.

Development agencies, led by the United Nations, have conducted a joint survey on the impact of monsoon floods in Bangladesh and published the report on Saturday. It said 7.53 million people including 3.8 million women from 21 districts of the country can be affected by the ongoing floods. The disaster can permanently displace 2,833 people.

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The report also projected how many people can be affected in each area. It predicted the Dhaka will be the hardest hit with 1.64 million dwellers being affected followed by Bogura, Jamalpur, Tangail and Sirajganj.

When asked, NAHAB (National Alliance of Humanitarian Actors) advisor and disaster expert, Abdul Latif, told Prothom Alo that it does not seem that the water will recede by Eid-ul-Azha. It will be hard for the affected people to receive relief amid the Eid holidays as they receive now, he said adding that a large chunk of the government offices and volunteers will be on leave. He stressed the need to stock relief materials in the flood prone areas.

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The UN agencies and other international agencies have finalised a workplan in order to assist the flood affected people. The government has slated a meeting with the organisations this week. The meeting will discuss a workplan to combat floods.

The government has been working alone to control the disaster, said Md. Atiqul Haque, director general of disaster management department. We will hold a meeting with the development agencies soon and if required, will seek assistance from the army too, he said.

According to Arifuzzaman Bhuiyan, executive engineer of FFWC, floodwaters still remain in 18 districts and the situation will further deteriorate from Tuesday as rainfall has increased upstream and in the country. It may flood new districts as well worsen the situation at Brahmaputra-Jamuna basin, Padma basin and haor areas, he added.

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Quoting the European Centre for Medium-Range Weather Forecasts, the UN report said it may rain about 1,000mm in India’s Assam, Meghalaya and West Bengal. This may release huge onrush of water in Bangladesh through Teesta, Dhorla, Dudhkumar and Brahmaputra. The onrush which may continue till the first week of August can exceed the severity of the 1988 floods.

According to the disaster management and relief ministry, so far, 2.4 million people have been affected and houses of 2.8 million people have been damaged. Some 60,000 people took resort to government set up 1,100 shelters, so far.

The report also estimated that 11,000 physically handicapped, 24,000 infants, 2.48 million adolescents, 61,000 elderly and 22,000 pregnant women will be affected.

“The most affected people from the flood affected areas are poor. They cannot recover their losses once they get affected by the floods. Rehabilitation plans should be drafted from now so that they can return to their normal state once the flood recedes, “said Ainun Nishat, professor emeritus at BRAC university.

*This report, originally published in Prothom Alo print edition, has been rewritten here by Nusrat Nowrin.