Floods in Bangladesh Displace 1.5 Million, Threaten Food Crops

Monsoon rains have ravaged farmland and left stagnant waters creating conditions ripe for water-borne diseases
ACF provides nutritional support for vulnerable communities in Bangladesh. Photo
ACF provides nutritional support for vulnerable communities in Bangladesh. Photo: ACF-Bangladesh, G. Hughson

Heavy monsoon rains in the late summer months have caused several major rivers in Bangladesh to burst their banks, displacing 1.5 million people and inflicting significant damages on the country’s crops and productive resources. Action Against Hunger’s experts are also concerned that the resulting stagnant or standing water will lead to outbreaks of waterborne illnesses in the coming weeks—outbreaks that can contribute to malnutrition among children under the age of five years.

To date, the floods have taken a debilitating toll on millions of people:

  • Agricultural fields remain covered in standing water, which has destroyed crops, seed stocks, livelihoods, and employment opportunities for daily workers.
  • Fish, the main source of protein, is now scarce and expensive, and food prices in general have increased 10 to 15 percent.
  • Faced with food shortages, families have drastically reduced the number and quality of daily meals.
  • Countless houses were damaged or destroyed, forcing the displaced into makeshift shelters (e.g., schools) or in impromptu camps along roadsides.
  • Drinking water has been contaminated by standing water, latrines have been partially or totally destroyed, and the threat of waterborne diseases grows daily.

Flooding Calls for Multi-faceted Needs

Present in Bangladesh since 2007 where teams carry out programs in nutrition, food security & livelihoods, water & sanitation, and disaster risk reduction., ACF was positioned to carry out immediate distributions of food for 1,000 displaced families in the Satkhira district. Emergency programs are also in motion to assist another 23,000 people, with a special focus on the displaced, female-headed households, the disabled and the elderly.

The long-term needs will require a range of programs to help these communities recover:

  • Temporary shelter and financial support to rebuild homes as winter approaches;
  • Water, sanitation and hygiene programs to provide safe drinking water, latrine construction, training in water resource management and hygiene promotion;
  • Nutritional surveillance of affected areas and the provision of therapeutic treatment for acute malnutrition among the most vulnerable, especially young children and pregnant or nursing women;
  • Cash-based interventions, such as coupons or cash-for-work programs to ensure access to food and income.