Early action to save lives in Bangladesh amid severe flood forecast

Dhaka/Kuala Lumpur/Geneva, 30 June 2020: Urgent early action is being taken to protect lives in Bangladesh as floods threaten 4.1 million people in large areas across the country that are already grappling with COVID-19.

The Global Flood Awareness System (GLOFAS) has issued a flood forecast with a more than 50 per cent probability of a severe 1-in-10-year flood submerging some areas of Bangladesh for at least three days.

A 5-day forecast by Bangladesh’s Flood Forecast and Warning Centre (FFWC) has also confirmed the severity of the floods. Bangladesh Red Crescent Society is implementing early actions with forecast-based funds from the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) to protect the lives, property and livelihoods of more than 16,500 people most at risk in three districts: Kurigram, Gaibandha and Jamalpur.

Bangladesh Red Crescent Society Secretary General Feroz Salah Uddin said: “The flood water is rising alarmingly and many areas are already inundated. Our volunteers and staff are on the ground to assist the most vulnerable communities before the water reaches the danger level.

“This funding will help us accelerate our early actions when time is running out.”

The forecast has triggered the release of more than 230,000 Swiss francs (240,000 US dollars) from IFRC’s designated fund for anticipatory action, Forecast-based Action by the Disaster Relief Emergency Fund.

This funding will help support Bangladesh Red Crescent in evacuating people in the most at risk communities to safe shelters with their valuable assets and livestock; providing unconditional cash grants to those affected; and giving first aid treatment to those who need it. Precautionary measures are also being taken to reduce the risk of COVID-19 by pre-positioning facemasks and hand sanitisers for distribution.

IFRC Head of Bangladesh Country Office Azmat Ulla said: “As a potentially severe flood continues to threaten millions of people in Bangladesh, we are taking a variety of preparedness measures to save lives and reduce loss. Together with Bangladesh Red Crescent we are reaching out to the communities in need to help them evacuate and to provide them with cash grants that give people in the path of floodwaters the ability to address their most urgent needs.

“The compounding effects of COVID-19 and the floods could be devastating and this funding is crucial to reducing the impact as much as possible.”

This is the second time in six weeks that IFRC has released forecast-based funds to support early and life-saving action in Bangladesh, after releasing more than 134,000 Swiss francs (138,000 US dollars) ahead of Cyclone Amphan in May.

Early actions and forecast thresholds are pre-defined and agreed in BDRCS’ Early Action Protocol for Floods that has been developed with support of German Red Cross and Red Cross Red Crescent Climate Centre.

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