Floods worsen, more relief needed

Update:

As apprehended, the flood situation in the country is rapidly deteriorating. The people are facing acute suffering due to the worsening floods in Kurigram, Gaibandha, Jamalpur, Bogura and Tangail.

Flood waters are also entering Shariatpur, Munshiganj, Manikganj and Narayanganj, The government flood forecast centre has warned of flood waters entering the low lying areas of Dhaka too. In Sylhet, river banks are facing erosion as the flood waters recede.

Road and railway communication in many flood affected areas has snapped and power connections have been severed in several areas too. Till Friday, seven persons had reportedly died in the floods.

According to Red Cross and Red Crescent Society, around 4 million flood-affected people of the country are faced with the possibility of food shortage and their health is at risk too. Save the Children has said around 400,000 children are threatened by the floods. There has already been an outbreak of diseases in the flood-affected areas.

Bangladesh is faced with a serious natural disaster and the people are in urgent need of assistance. As always, it is the poor, low-income persons who suffer the most and who face a crisis of food and drinking water. Food shortage has already set in and the sources of drinking water have been inundated by the floods. This is a matter of grave concern. The lack of clean drinking water leads to the spread of various diseases.

Government relief activities in the flood affected areas have been inadequate so far. The amount of rice, biscuits and other dry food as well as funds for general relief provided by the government is insufficient. Relief goods must be increased immediately. Ample supply of water purifying tablets, nutritious dry food for children, oral saline and other life-saving drugs must be ensured. Stress must be placed on relief management. Relief allocation and distribution must be done with efficiency and speed. And accountability must be ensured. People’s lives depend on this.

Alongside government relief programmes, private sector initiatives are also essential. There use to be a tradition of standing beside the distressed in times of disaster, but that no longer exists. There is need for public sensitivity and empathy towards the huge numbers of people faced with this disaster. Organised initiatives on the part of the business community, voluntary organisations, college and university students, and others, are imperative to tackle his humanitarian crisis.

An alarming feature of the floods this time is the decreased navigability of the rivers and expanding of the flood plains.

Experts note that there have been more flooding with lesser water due to siltation on the river beds of Brahmaputra, Jamuna, Teesta and other rivers. The tributaries, filled with silt, have become more like flood plains. This is a serious matter which may have long term impact.

Unless the rivers are dredged, the floods may worsen in the future. The authorities must look into the matter and take action without further delay.

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