Floods devastate Char Rajibpur

People renovating their houses at Char Rajibpur after the flood water receded on 25 June, 2022Jahir Raihan

Floods broke out in Char Rajibpur around two weeks ago. However, the situation worsened around a week ago. Monowara Begum was forced to leave her house after the water rose waist high. She took shelter in the house of one of her neighbours, which was comparatively higher than her house.

Monowara said, “I took shelter at my neighbour’s house after the waves became stronger. I am now living there.”

Monowara lives in the Shankar Madhabpur village in Kodalkati union of Kurigram. Monowara returned to her home last afternoon. Although the water had receded, the yard was muddy.

Monowara’s husband went out in search of a job 20 years ago and never returned. She now lives with her daughter Amina, her disabled son-in-law Alauddin and grandson Atiq. Monowara said with a sigh, “I don’t have any work at the moment. I don’t know how I will manage in the coming days.”

Alleging that they are yet to receive any government relief, Monowara said an NGO gave the 2 kg rice, 1 kg puffed rice and 500 gm sugar on Friday. She borrowed 5 kg of rice from one of her neighbours.

Like Monowara, at least 32,000 residents of Char Rajibpur Sadar, Kodalkati and Mohanganj union have been affected by the floods. Someone's house is broken, someone's crop is ruined. They do not have money in their hands as there is no work.

According to the Bangladesh Bureau of Statistics (BBS), Char Rajibpur is home to some of the poorest people in the country. The poverty rate here is 79.6. The population of the upazila is about 85,000. There are at least 30 chars in this upazila. Most of the residents of these chars are extremely poor.

Flood water was seen to receding at the Bilpara Char in Shankar Madhabpur on Saturday. However, most of the family had not returned.

Khalil and Amela had a thatched roof house and a small room for their goat. The room for the goat collapsed during the floods. They took shelter at one of their relative’s houses after their house was flooded.

Their neighbour Nurul Amin said, “The family is extremely poor. They are somehow surviving by rearing some goats.”

Speaking to Prothom Alo on Sunday, Aminul Islam, upazila vice-chairman of Rajibpur, said, “Thousands of families in Rajibpur are displaced every year during the floods due to the river erosion. Sometimes an owner of 200 to 300 bighas of land becomes landless after floods.”

Rajibpur upazila project implementation officer (on additional duty), Azizur Rahman said, “Some 32,000 people of the upazila have been affected by the floods. We have provided relief to some 530 families as of yesterday.”

If we consider five members in a family, then the number of flood affected families will be 6,400. As such, only eight per cent of the affected family has got the relief.

Amit Chakrabarty, upazila nirbahi officer of Rajibpur, also admitted the insufficiency of relief. He said they had submitted a demand note to the deputy commissioner of the district to increase allocation.

Meanwhile, the affected people in various chars are furious about the inadequate relief. Some of them complained of corruption in relief management.

Aminur Rahman, a local madrasah teacher, said, “Why is there inequality over relief where all the people are poor?”