Devastating Floods Sweep Bangladesh

Emergency Intervention Begins in Shariatpur District

Though water levels continue to subside following the devastating floods in Bangladesh, affected populations remain in a precarious situation. Access to water and hygiene is still limited, risking outbreaks of disease and epidemics. In light of this, Action Against Hunger is launching an emergency operation in Shariatpur district, south of Dhaka.

Until a few weeks ago, nearly half of all districts in Bangladesh (40%) were totally or partially flooded by this year’s heavy monsoon. More than 500 people died mainly due to water-borne diseases; an estimated 60,000 homes have been destroyed; and more than 10 million people have been affected by the floods. As water levels decrease, concerns remain regarding access to clean drinking water and sanitation especially for the most vulnerable people. Action Against Hunger is launching an emergency intervention in Shariatpur district (south of Dhaka) in partnership with a Bangladeshi humanitarian organization, Shariatpur Development Society, to improve the population’s access to clean drinking water, sanitation, and food.

An urgent need for clean water and sanitation

In Shariatpur, one of the most affected districts, more than 650,000 people (or more than half the district’s population) were affected by the floods and the resulting erosion of river banks. In some parts of the district, 80% of water sources have been polluted, and 200 of these have been severely damaged. Although many people are returning to their villages, nearly 1,000 families are still displaced. “People are walking on the edge of the streets with the cattle they were able to save from the floods,” says Action Against Hunger’s Florent Baverey. “Shallow wells have nearly all been damaged or contaminated while deeper wells are mainly still functioning. There is a risk that the remaining water and sanitation installations will become saturated.”

Together with Shariatpur Development Society, Action Against Hunger will provide assistance to 4,000 families by implementing programs to rehabilitate and construct wells, to install latrines, and to distribute hygiene kits.

A precarious situation

A large part of the cultivated land was inundated by flooding. Some families have lost all their stock, seeds, and some of their livestock. Livestock is a substantial part of families’ assets in the district, which is now threatened by outbreaks of animal diseases. The people most affected by the floods are the poor and migrant laborers who will have to survive without any source of income for some weeks, before the situation improves. Action Against Hunger, in partnership with Shariatpur Development Society, will launch programs including the vaccinations of animals and the distribution of fodder and seeds to assist the most vulnerable families in restarting their agricultural activities as soon as possible.