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Two million people marooned by floods

A woman cooking her family's daily food standing on a banana-raft after flood water inundated her kitchen on a char (river island) in Sariakandi Sub-district in northern Bogra District. Bangladesh, September 2008. Shamsuddin Ahmed/IRIN
A woman prepares a meal for her family in flooded waters, Bangladesh

More than two million people have been marooned by late monsoon floods in 15 of the country's 64 districts, according to the Bangladesh Water Development Board (BWDB).

The flood waters first hit the country from the neighbouring Indian provinces of Bihar, West Bengal, Arunachal, Assam and Meghalaya at end-August, entering Bangladesh's three major rivers systems, including the Brahmaputra, Ganges and Meghna.

Inundating the north-western and north-eastern districts, that same water is now flowing south through the country's heartland – threatening to flood Dhaka, Munshiganj, Manikganj, Faridpur and Shariatpur districts in the south-central region.

Water levels along the Ganges-Padma and the Meghna river systems continue to rise. And while the Brahmaputra-Jamuna system registered a drop at points upstream, it is still rising downstream.

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Flood conditions in the northern region worsened with the Teesta and the Dharla rivers - two tributaries of the Brahmaputra - rising, said Mustafa Sarwar, deputy project director of Flood Forecasting and Warning Centre (FFWC).

As of 4 September, 29 out of the country's 73 rivers monitored by the FFWC registered an increase in water levels over the previous 24 hours, with 23 now flowing above the danger level.

Flooding in Sylhet and Sunamganj districts will likely continue as the region (including Kachhar, Goalpara and Dhubri districts in the neighbouring Indian Assam Province) has been experiencing heavy rainfall for last few days.

Nearly 125,000 people in Lalmonirhat, Kurigram and Rangpur districts alone have been marooned, while two young girls drowned in flood waters in the Chalonbeel area in Tarash Sub-district earlier this week.

Hundreds of "chars" (river islands) have been submerged, trapping tens of thousands and prompting many people to shift to higher ground along flood embankments.

The marooned people are now suffering from an acute lack of drinking water and food, say relief workers, while livestock does not have enough fodder.

Road links between Faridpur and Char Vadrasan, Tepakhola and Goalunda, Faridpur and Sadarpur in the south-central region have been cut off. In northern Kurigram District relief office said more than 100,000 people on 276 chars did not leave their homes despite the floods.

Photo: Shamsuddin Ahmed/IRIN
Women walk through the flood waters in search of clean drinking water
Agriculture losses

According to a report by the Department of Agricultural Extension (DAE), crops such as Aman (the mainstay of the country's rice production and a staple component of the population's diet), t-Aman (a locally developed hybrid paddy), Aush (a secondary rice crop whose volume is less than half of Aman), jute and vegetables on more than 100,000 hectares of land in the 15 flood-hit districts were submerged.

"Crops, especially t-Aman, will be damaged completely if the water does not recede within the next two to three days," DAE former director-general Ibrahim Khalil warned.

Mohsin Ali, deputy director of the DAE in Kurigram District, said that vegetables and crops, including Aman, on about 10,000 hectares of land have been washed away.

More than 20,000 hectares of Aman and Aus crops in Companiganj, Golapganj, Jaintapur, Kanaighat, Gowainghat, Fenchuganj and Beanibazar Sub-districts have been destroyed in Sylhet and Sunamganj districts, according to agriculture officials.

In the northern Rangpur District, the Aman crop has already been destroyed on several thousand hectares of land. In Lalmonirhat District, another 27,605 hectares has been destroyed.

Photo: Shamsuddin Ahmed/IRIN
Floods do not come alone in Bangladesh; severe river-bank erosion is not far behind
Relief operation begins

Meanwhile, 92 medical teams have been dispatched to flood-affected areas to cope with potential disease outbreaks, said sources at the Director-General of Health Services office.

A government-donor-NGO situation report issued on 1 September stated that 4,700 metric tonnes (MT) of rice and more than US$100,000 in cash relief had been allotted to all 64 districts of the country, while an additional 50,000 MT of rice and food grains had been allotted to the 15 flood-affected districts.

Under this programme, flooded roads, mosques, madrasas (religious schools), orphanages, schools and other public welfare infrastructures and institutions would be renovated, the report said.


This article was produced by IRIN News while it was part of the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs. Please send queries on copyright or liability to the UN. For more information: https://shop.un.org/rights-permissions

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