More stranded as second round of flooding hits

Sixteen of Bangladesh’s 64 districts have been affected by a second round of monsoon flooding this year, while new areas have been inundated in three south-central districts of the flood-prone nation, including Dhaka District.

According to a bulletin by the Flood Forecast and Warning Centre (FFWC) on 16 September, the flood situation in the south-central part of the country - including Rajbari, Faridpur, Manikganj, Munshiganj, Dhaka, Madaripur, Shariatpur, Gopalganj and Chandpur - was still deteriorating, although the overall flood situation in the country looked set to improve in the next 48-72 hours.

In Ullapara, in the northwestern district of Pabna, 200,000 people from 442 villages were still marooned and district authorities had set up 150 makeshift relief camps where 175,000 stranded people have taken shelter.

In Rajbari, Pangsha and Goalondo in the south-central region where some 6,000 mud houses have collapsed, over 38,000 families were stranded.

In Faridpur 36,000 families had to leave their homes for flood shelters.

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In Kurigram District, northwestern Bangladesh, 12,000 families in 600 villages are still severely affected by flooding although the situation in the region is showing signs of improvement.

In Balaganj, in the northeastern district of Sylhet, the sub-district’s police station, a government health complex and the main local market were still in knee-deep water. Some 254,000 families in the district have been severely affected.

Water levels of the five rivers that surround the capital, Dhaka - the Buriganga, the Balu, the Lakhya, the Turag and the Tongi - continue to rise, with the Balu and the Lakhya crossing the danger mark, but the FFWC said there was no danger of flooding in the city.

However, the FFWC on 16 September said 23 major rivers, including the Padma and the Brahmaputra, were flowing above their danger levels in the south-central region of the country; 28 rivers were rising and 30 were falling. Most of the rivers in the southeastern hill basins had fallen.

Threat to rice harvest

“Districts affected for the second time are more vulnerable as in many cases the embankments had already been washed away and resources depleted by the first flood last month”, Dr Golam Mohammad Panaullah, former chief scientist of the Bangladesh Rice Research Institute (BRRI), told IRIN, in Dhaka.

''I will simply starve with my family if I don’t receive enough relief for the next four months. I don’t have money, and there is no time to plant seedlings again.''

“The post-flood relief and rehabilitation operation has to be quite exhaustive,” Panaullah said, noting that this year’s important `Aman’ rice crop had been almost completely lost.

“There is hardly any time for the farmers to transplant `Aman’ seedlings for the third time. Also, there aren’t enough seedlings as most of the seed beds have been washed away. Even if there are seedlings farmers will not have money to buy them. They shall have to be fed until the ‘Boro’ crop (winter paddy) is harvested next January,” he warned.

“I will simply starve with my family if I don’t receive enough relief for the next four months. I don’t have money, and there is no time to plant seedlings again. The only hope lies in planting saplings of winter crops,” explained Abdul Gofran, a 48-year-old sharecropper from the village of Goalkandi in the northwestern district of Shirajganj, who cultivates one ‘bigha’ (less than one third of an acre) of someone else’s land on a 50-50 basis. Gofran has to provide for a family of five.

Photo: Shamsuddin Ahmed/IRIN
The Rangpur-Kurigram railway track in the northwest of the country has been washed away by a second spell of flooding. Rail and road links have been badly affected in at least six other places across the country

Most deaths from drowning

The Director-General of Health Services (DGHS) said that between the end of July and 15 September, 840 flood-related deaths had been reported, including 729 by drowning, 70 from snakebite, 22 from diarrhoea and 19 from respiratory tract infection (RTI).

Over 86 percent of all flood-related deaths were caused by drowning. Most of those who drowned were children under five years of age, as were most of the diarrhoea and RTI victims.

According to the latest information from the DGHS, this year’s monsoon floods have affected 10.6 million people in 39 out of 64 districts of Bangladesh.