News Details

September 7, 2014
1. Overview of the Situation and the Disaster

Since August 13th, heavy rains in the main river basins and upstream catchments of India, along with continuous rainfall in the north-west and north-east Bangladesh have triggered flooding in low-lying, vulnerable and densely populated areas. Figures from the JNA August 31st report , indicates that this current flooding may be the most severe the country has faced since the “mega-flood” of 2007 where 46 districts across the country and 16 million people were affected. A key difference is that the 2007 floods took place in July while the current flooding did not become a major concern until August.

Districts in the north-west of the country were worst impacted. From August 17-19, flooding became a severe issue in various parts of the country, particularly in a significant number of the north-west districts of Lalmonirhat, Kurigram, Nilphamari, Rangpur, Gaibandha, Bogra, Sirajganj, Jamalpur, and Sherpur. Since last week, the north-east of the country, prone to flash flooding and includes the haor basin region, and a number of districts nearer to the capital Dhaka, have also become severely affected. The August 30th situation report from the Government’s Disaster Management Information Centre (DMIC) cites 17 (out of the country’s 64 districts) are affected by flooding, with reports from NGO sources confirming a further 40 Unions may have been affected in Bogra and Sirajganj. DMIC also reported a total of 1,096,472 people affected with the highest number of affected people in Sirajganj & Jamalpur. 34332 houses were fully destroyed and 214258 were partially destroyed with the most affected being Sirajganj and Kurigram.

Floodwater pouring through the villages have left people homeless, destroyed roads and damaged crops with officials warning that as the monsoon can extend into October, the situation looks likely to worsen over coming days and weeks and cause fresh areas to be submerged in the middle part of the country. The flooding situation is changing rapidly, with water reported as receding in some areas (Nilphamari, Kurigram, Lalmonirhat districts) and river levels predicted to rise in other locations (Manikgonj, Rajbari, Faridpur, Shariotpur districts).

All major rivers are in falling trend. The Brahmaputra-Jamuna, Ganges-Padma and Meghna may likely continue to fall in next 72 hours as of 4 Sept 2014. The rivers around Dhaka City (Buriganga, Balu, Turag and Tongi Khal) may continue to fall in next 72
hours. Flood Situation in the districts of Bogra, Serajganj, Jamalpur, Tangail Shariotpur, Madaripur, Munshiganj, Rajbari, Faridpur, and Manikganj may continue to improve in next 72 hours. In Sariakandi, Singra, Baghabari, Elasin, Lakhpur, Narayanganj, Taraghat, Jagir & Jariajanjail water is still flowing above their respective danger levels recorded today at 06.00AM.

2. District-wise Overview

North-West Region

Kurigram: Floods gripped vast areas of Rawmari, Kurigram Sadar, Chilmari and Ulipur Upazillas. Approximately 400 villages across 27 Unions where CARE Bangladesh’s SHOUHARDO II project is working, is reeling under water with 37,450 families affected. 48,500 hectors of crops have been destroyed with 4,506 houses fully and 17,645 houses partially destroyed and 8 fully and 69 partially destroyed educational/religious institutes.

Bogra: Sonatala and Sariakandi Upazilas are most affected by the flooding and resulting erosion. Due to the force of the floods the flood protection embankment has been breached at several points on August 29th in Sariakandi plunging some 100 villages underwater. Lives of around 100,000 people have been badly affected following the collapse of about 300 metres of the embankment. At least 100 villages of Kamalpur, Kutubpur, and Chandanbaisha and Velabari unions of the Upazila were flooded afresh following the collapse of the embankment with the families losing domestic animals, furniture, books, blankets, food etc. Over 1 to 2,000 families took refuge on the embankment. More then 15,000-20,000 houses are destroyed and 15 to 20 villages are water logged. 11,332 hectors of crops have been lost and 5,000 houses fully and 8,235 houses partially destroyed.

Jamalpur: Islampur and Dewanganj Upazila have been most affected by the flooding with all unions being inundated either partially or fully. According to JNA findings, 153731 people and a total 32035 households in Islampur are either affected partially or severely by the flooding. Severely affected unions are Kulkandi, Sapdhori, and Noarpara.

Dewanganj: 279, 096 people and 14,735 households in Dewanganj are affected partially or severely by the flood according to JNA findings. Two unions namely Char Aamkhawa, Dangdhara are severely affected while Chikajani, and Bahadurabad unions are moderately affected by flooding. Water is in a receding trend.

Sirajganj: A total of 27,090 households in 76 low lying, char villages of Kazipur and 18 villages of Sonatala are inundated by flood waters, displacing 800 households who took shelter on the nearest embankment and in school premises. On August 29th a 30 meter flood control embankment collapsed near Meghai Ghat, adjacent to Kazipur police station which led to 300 households being completely inundated. The infrastructure damage and impact has been considerable with 3,801 hectors of crops destroyed, 1,924 houses fully destroyed and 16,707 houses partially destroyed, 180 educational institutes and 338 sq. km of road fully destroyed.

North-East Region

Sunamganj: The overall flood situation of the north eastern haor basin deteriorated on August 27th. In most areas water levels have increased. Some people, forced to take refuge to safer places have started to return to their homes to begin the demanding cleanup operation removing huge deposits of mud and damaged fences. Work opportunities in this haor for the poorest, particularly day labours, have been disrupted leaving people with no income; while others have lost cattle and poultry due to post-flood infections. Children and women have been reported suffering from skin diseases. Recent drier weather has brought improvements of the flood situation in these areas. In particular, the flash flood stricken upazillas Biswambarpur and Tahirpur have seen hopeful signs of water recession of 2-3 feet.

3. Impact on Sectors

Food Security: Flood victims have been reported as suffering from an acute food crisis and are living off dry foods like ruti, puffed rice, flattened rice and molasses. According to the JNA report- 49% of affected unions reported issues with the ability to cook food and boil water for drinking with 60% of unions reported food stock damaged/destroyed by floodwaters causing some families to become fully dependent on food support. The most impacted groups are daily labourers (agricultural and non-agricultural) and small and marginal farmers. Short term food insecurity is a priority, immediate concern which due to the impact on agriculture crops and livelihoods will remain a longer-term need.

Agriculture: Agricultural land is still under water and no clear indication is yet available of the time needed for the water to recede. This is particularly worrying as agriculture is the main livelihood for the majority of the affected population. Thousands of hectares of aman seedbed to be harvested in November together with ready-to-harvest aus paddy fields have been inundated with most farmers losing their seed stocks for the next harvest. Fish farms have been completely washed away with the rush of water. Amongst 213 unions surveyed in JNA, 55% suffered from damages to seasonnal crops.
Many marginalized people in these affected areas are engaged in rearing livestock and are already facing post-flood difficulties keeping the livestock due to the lack of available fodder. High levels of livestock death have been reported from Unions in Bogra and Rangpur. Sales of livestock is at lower prices as the cost of fodder for feeding the animals has become unaffordable, prompting people to sell at whatever cost they can get. In the Rangpur char areas, people are fearful of having their livestock stolen by local dacoits.

Livelihood: In all affected districts agriculture, agricultural processing (mainly rice), livestock rearing and fishing represent the main livelihood activities. All activities appear to be heavily impacted by the floods. Small and marginal farmers, agricultural day labourers and non-agricultural day labourers were identified by Union authorities and assessment teams as the livelihoods most likely to be most affected. In this region the major employment opportunity is agricultural labour, and off-farm income for the unskilled rural poor is restricted to the brickfields, the rice and saw mills, earth works and rickshaw pulling. Tobacco cultivation is drawing interest due to higher profit, but at the cost of environmental impact and food and nutrition security. Further investigation is needed to understand the impact of the floods on these other forms of income generation.

WASH: Access to safe drinking water has been a main concern expressed by humanitarian actors in some areas more than others. The shortage has meant that some communities have been using contaminated polluted water. 49% of unions reported in JNA have issues with the ability to cook food and boil water. The lack of latrines or proper sanitation facilities has increased the risk of transmittable diseases placing children and infants at high risk of diarrhea. Considering the pre-crisis vulnerability in the affected areas and the impact on livelihoods the situation could worsen rapidly in the coming days and weeks especially if the water does not recede and people are not able to begin daily activities.

Health: Open defecation and polluted waters have greatly increased the risk of diarrhoea and water-borne diseases. Most flood victims have not been able to reach government health facilities. From August 19 -27 the National Health Crisis Management Centre and Control Room of Directorate General Of Health Services recorded a total of 1,239 diarrhoea cases, 353 cases of Acute Respiratory Infection pneumonia, 402 skin diseases, 131 eye infections, and 105 injuries with no death in 8 flood affected districts. The flood has led to decreased access to health centres for marooned households.

Shelter: Thousands of houses have been either washed away or severely damaged. As is often the case in Bangladesh, the displaced stay on whatever high ground they can find in makeshift shelters or in temporary locations like on embankments, high ground, roads, in schools, in flood shelters and neighbouring houses. In some locations (Dimla Upazila, Nilphamari District), people are reportedly living on rooftops, on wooden cots raised by bamboo poles, or on rafts made of bamboo. These arrangements offer limited privacy, protection from the elements, and inadequate or no sanitation. Living conditions are likely to worsen if the rain continues. Houses in the area are typically built on mud platforms (or plinths), which can be damaged and destroyed by severe flooding. Once the flood waters recede, the shelters will be in need of major repairs and /or rebuilding. Erosion is thought likely to have increased. The plinths of the houses which are traditionally built of mud are most likely to have been washed away making the houses prone to collapse.

Education: Many educational institutes including primary schools and high schools are reported to have been temporarily shut down because of the flood waters. The most frequently cited reason for schools not being operational is that the schools are not accessible & infrastructure damage. It is unclear at this point if schools that are closed due to infrastructure damage are closed because the school itself is flooded or because the land the school is situated on has been made unsafe due to riverbank erosion.

Protection: Flood shelters have inadequate WASH facilities, which is a concern for public health as well as protection Past disasters have found that this poses risks to women and adolescent girls, who resort to a range of detrimental practices to avoid exposure (including waiting until nightfall to go to the toilet, bathing in dirty water). In the past, privacy to breastfeed has also been an issue.

4. Humanitarian Needs, Response and Gaps by Sector
It is reported that the Government is providing the relief materials in the form of cash and rice to the affected population, however as the current scenario, there is huge need to fulfill the need. The government has provided 9750 metric tons of rice and 20,350,000 BDT in relief as of 30 Aug. Response should concentrate in the districts affected by river and monsoon in the north; and the Haor basin and flash flood areas of the northeast. The following priorities for humanitarian interventions listed from field reports:

• Food and safe drinking water, and emergency shelter are reported as the main immediate priorities
• Repair of roads and access points is required
• Access to healthcare and medicines is required for water-borne illnesses

5. CARE’s Emergency Response

From the onset of the flooding in the affected areas of the SHOUHARDO II project (Sirajganj, Kurigram, Jamalpur, Sonatola, Nilphamari, Rangpur, Sunamganj, Dhirai, Bishambarpur), trained Union Disaster Volunteer are actively supporting their communities in multiple ways with search and rescue, evacuation of more than 200 households, disseminating preparedness and warning messages in collaboration with Union Disaster Management Committee, organizing people for relief distributions, and addressing special needs of the extremely vulnerable e.g. with disabilities and women.

On August 19th the key country-level coordination forum, the Humanitarian Coordination Task Team (HCTT), requested a joint needs assessment of the affected area in the north-west, with CARE designated as the lead coordinator. JNA has now been completed and the draft report is being reviewed and finalized for public release on September 2. Pending decision on whether a JNA is to be conducted in the north east, agency coordination in undertaking assessments, sharing information, etc is proceeding amongst NGOs active in the north east.

On August 30th CARE prepositioned water purification solution sachets to Rangpur, Sirajganj, Jamalpur and Sunamgonj to provide up to 40,000 HHs with potable water for a 7 day period. Awareness & training sessions on their use are being conducted with staff and beneficiaries, prior to their distribution by our partner organizations.

Based on CARE and JNA findings a mobilization of cash resources is underway to provide an immediate 3-5 day dry food package for up to 4000 IDP (Internally Displaced People) most vulnerable households who are unable to cook and have no access to food in the worst affected districts. Currently 5 have been selected (Kurigram, Gaibandha, Bogra, Jamalpur and Sirajganj districts) but these could change. These food packages are a stop gap and will include Flatten Rice, Sugar, Salt Candle, ORS and Water Purification solution.

Immediate recovery planning for a six months period is underway with likely intervention areas include of WASH, shelter and food security/livelihoods. Geographical area will be selected considering severity, gaps, needs and CARE’s presence.

CARE continues to collect information from the field and coordinate with other agencies using the JNA format.

6. Contacts:

Jamie Terzi; Country Director,

Karen Moore; ACD Program

Marc Nosbach; Chief Of Party SHOUHARDOII

Abdul Wahed; Emergency Coordinator

7. Sources of Data:
1. CARE Bangladesh field staff
2. JNA Report
3. DMIC Sitreps
4. FFWC website
5. Bangladesh Red Crescent Society
6. Major newspapers like Prothom Alo & Daily Star

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