Tens of Thousands Flee Bangladesh Floods

SIRAJGANJ, Sep 20 (IRIN) – As late monsoon rains continue to swell Bangladeshi rivers, floodwaters have forced more than 140,000 people to flee their homes and destroyed some 40,000 hectares of farmland, officials say.

“There is knee-deep water in my house. The hearth is full with floodwater. My family did not receive any relief till this morning. My husband, two children and I are surviving on puffed rice that a neighbour gave us two days ago,” said Momota Begum of Decreer Char village in central Faridpur District.

There is no drinking water. No latrines around here. People are defecating indiscriminately on the slopes of the embankment

Government officials say floodwaters have heavily eroded riverbanks and devoured some 80 villages since 9 September, most of them by the Brahmaputra river in the northwest.

According to the country’s Flood Forecasting and Warning Centre (FFWC), although the situation in the northwest is expected to stabilize soon, officials predict it will deteriorate in the northeast over the weekend.

As of 16 September, the government had distributed 1,135 tons of rice, US$27,000 in cash relief, and $34,150 in house building grants to affected people in 10 districts, Minister of Food and Disaster Management Abdur Razzaque told IRIN.

“More relief is in the pipeline. We will do everything that we can to help those who have lost or left their homes due to the floods,” Razzaque said.
Loss of homes, food, livelihoods

Government officials and media reports have given a breakdown of people stranded and farmland destroyed as follows:

– In four northeastern districts of Sylhet, Sunamganj, Moulvi Bazar and Hobiganj, 40,000 hectares of crops have been damaged, local media report.

– According to the Water Development Board (WDB), floods have washed away a large segment of a flood protection levee on the western bank of the Brahmaputra, forcing nearly 35,000 people in 60 villages from their homes in west-central Sirajganj District. “Rice, lentils, vegetables and other cash crops on 2,660 hectares of land in Shahzadpur sub-district of Sirajganj have been destroyed,” said Abdul Zaher Ali, deputy director of the Department of Agricultural Extension.

– In Sherpur District, 1,280 hectares of crops have been destroyed in 30 villages, and nearly 60,000 people are either stranded in their homes or have been forced to flee to higher ground, local officials said.

– In addition to the above, more than 48,000 people from some 100 river islands have abandoned their houses to seek shelter on flood protection embankments on the banks of the Brahmaputra in Kurigram, Gaibandha, Bogra, Sirajganj, Sherpur and Jamalpur districts.

Yusuf Mia and his seven children are among the many residents who have taken refuge on the embankments.

“I used to work in a brick kiln that has been drenched by the floods. I lost my house to the river. I have no job. I don’t know how to collect food for my kids,” Mia said.

“We are living a subhuman life,” said Golapi Banu of Nijkornibari Village in Sariakandi sub-district of Bogra. She is among some 4,000 people from three villages in Sariakandi stranded on the embankments.

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