Monsoon rains – the worst in 122 years – have inundated major rivers in northeastern Bangladesh and submerged thousands of houses, impacting 4.3 million people. The worse is yet to come as flooding worsens and access to impacted areas is hampered.
“Tens of thousands of people in 10 districts are now trapped as the flood-hit areas are reaching their peak point. Thousands more are at risk of losing their homes and potentially [their] lives as the water level continues to rise in the next few days,” says Ashish Damle, Oxfam Country Director in Bangladesh.
The Surma, Kushiara, Sari, Luva and Dhalai rivers, which stretch across 64 Upazilas in Sylhet, Sunamganj, Molvibazar, Habiganj, Netrakona and Brahmanbaria districts, continue to rise – some above danger levels. The flooding water has submerged up to 80% of some districts, cutting power and internet and forcing flights to halt. In Chhatak upazila in Sunamganj, several hundred houses, more than 200 educational institutions and at least 100 fish enclosures have been totally submerged just in the past few days.
Thousands of stranded people, many of whom are pregnant women, girls, elderly people and people with disabilities, are waiting on roads and in temporary shelters. They urgently need food, drinking water, cash support and sanitation services. But the lack of boats and water congestion are making reaching impacted people difficult.
“Oxfam, together with our local partners, is responding to affected areas, supporting people with cash assistance and water and sanitation services, including repairing tube wells and installing latrines. But the situation is going out of control very rapidly, and we need more support to scale up our operations,” says Enamul Mazid Khan Siddique, the Humanitarian Program Director of Oxfam in Bangladesh.
Oxfam aims to reach 150,000 people with life-saving water, cash and other services, but urgently needs $10 million to scale up operations.
Climate change has worsened the flooding situation in India and Bangladesh over the past few years. Heavy rainfall in some of the northern and northeastern regions of the country, along with the adjoining states of Assam, Meghalaya and Sub-Himalayan West Bengal of India, is likely to continue in next 72 hours, putting potentially thousands more lives at risk.
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Elena Sosa Lerín