Post-flood relief drive under way

The government of Bangladesh is undertaking a major post-flood relief effort after over two million people were affected by above average monsoon rains. Since the end of July 39 of the country’s 64 districts have been affected.

According to the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), on 17 September some 300,000 people in Bangladesh had been displaced or marooned, most of them for the second time in just two months.

An official bulletin said the Brahmaputra river, which flows from Tibet through India to Bangladesh and the Bay of Bengal, was above the danger level in 17 places.

The government of Bangladesh has so far distributed US $580,000 in cash grants and $870,000 in housing grants to flood-affected people. At a press conference on 12 September the caretaker government announced that $1.7 million in cash grants and $5.9 million in housing grants had been paid out of the government’s relief fund.

The Bangladesh Agriculture Ministry estimates crop damage to be $290 million in this year’s flooding. Costs in terms of infrastructure and housing are yet to be determined.

More on Bangladesh floods
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Flood waters recede, but challenges remain
Effective systems keep diarrhoea in check even during floods

Abul Hasib Khan, executive director of Resource Integration Centre, a national non-governmental organisation (NGO), told IRIN that NGOs required more funding and that their staff were exhausted after the first floods that began at the end of July, while a recent second round of monsoon floods had added to the challenge.

“We are working hard and looking for more volunteers to help in the emergency,” Khan said.

UN agencies are conducting a rapid needs assessment (RENA) to better understand the immediate and early recovery needs of the affected people. Four teams, made up of one representative each from the World Food Programme (WFP), UNICEF, the UN Population Fund, the World Health Organization and the UN Development Programme, have been dispatched to different regions of the country to undertake the RENA. Some NGO staff are also accompanying the teams.

Food, medicine

Aid operations have begun and procurement orders placed: These include high protein BP5 biscuits, 55 metric tonnes (mt) of which have already been received and dispatched for immediate distribution. Another 66 mt are due to arrive in a couple of days, while an additional 147 mt of biscuits are in the procurement pipeline, according to UNICEF.

“Decisions regarding continued distribution or replenishment of earlier stocks will depend on how the flood situation evolves in the coming weeks and months and the nutritional needs for children and women. Two hundred metric tones of BP5 biscuits were ordered in anticipation of more flooding,” Kirsty McIvor, chief of communications for the agency told IRIN in Dhaka.

Other relief materials in the procurement pipeline include 400,000 bags of intravenous saline and eight other life-saving drugs worth $125,000 from the Canadian International Development Agency.

Of the 10,000 family kits being procured, 2,000 are immediately available and have gone for distribution along with 3,000 plastic sheets.


Photo: David Swanson/IRIN
A full picture of the damage to the country’s housing infrastructure has yet to be revealed

Food aid in the north

WFP is focusing on food aid in the northern districts that had been worst hit by repeat flooding. In some pockets in the northern region poverty is endemic and at this time of the year hundreds of thousands suffer from acute food shortages.

The British Department for International Development (DfID) is interested in funding UN flood relief to the tune of $9-14 million.

The World Bank has pledged a $75 million loan in budget support to Bangladesh as emergency flood assistance. Possible areas for support include agriculture, health, education, communications, water and sanitation.

UNICEF will receive $750,000 from the Central Emergency Relief Fund says the former’s latest situation report on 12 September.

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