By Stephen Ryan in Bangladesh
Bangladesh has once more been battered by storms and floods, with approximately 1.5 million people affected. Families and individuals have had their homes devastated, forcing them to seek out alternative, ad-hoc accommodation.
Travelling with the assessment team from the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC), we come to a collection of villages in Biddanandan Kathi union, in the Jessore district.
Along the roadside, we pass hundreds of shelters, most of them made of jute branch and little else, offering almost no protection from the rain. Here, the villagers tell me that they feel they’ve been forgotten.
Tuhin, a local school teacher, says: “What are we to do? Every single house was flooded. There are hundreds of us forced to the edge of the roadside. We need help!”
There were over 1,100 homes in these villages. Many are now either destroyed or heavily damaged. Water is everywhere, and it doesn’t just cause problems with housing. The villagers say they have only enough food for another week at the most, and with so much stagnant water, the risk of disease breaking out is high.
Already many of those living in these conditions have skin problems. Many have only the clothes they wear. All are hungry. With the Muslim festival of Eid upon us, there will be little celebration for this community; they are too focused on surviving.
At an evacuation centre in Philbari school in the village of Shener Ghati,
Tala, I meet Fazular. His tail is all too familiar. “I came here 20 days ago with my wife and three children,” he says. “My home was totally destroyed. All is gone, all is gone.”
There are 193 families staying at Philbari school, all now without homes. Each classroom hosts dozens of families. Despite the crowded conditions, these are the lucky ones. They have a secure roof over their heads, and food aid available. For countless others, the situation is far more desperate.
The villages of Khutighata and Sharsha are more isolated. Here, virtually everyone in the community has lost their home. A village leader tells me that they are desperate, with little food, and very poor shelter. They plead with us not to forget them, to send any help we can.
We move on, but the story remains the same everywhere we go.
In all, over 1.5 million people have been affected by heavy flooding in Bangladesh this year. The flooding in Satkhira and Khulna districts has not been like the flash flooding that recently hit Cox’s bazaar on the eastern side of Bangladesh.
Here, the problem will be a long term one; much of the land is now water-logged, and there is simply nowhere for it to go. Around 20,000 houses in 548 villages collapsed completely, and poor farmers/share croppers have lost their investment as over 66,000 acres of standing crops have been either partially or fully damaged by the floods. For families like Fazular’s, future is bleak.
The IFRC has launched an appeal for 1.3 million Swiss francs (USD 1.26 million or EUR 877,543) to provide emergency relief to support 50,000 people affected by floods. View the appeal.