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The Devastating Deluge in the North


Aadrito Maitra


The monsoon can be called one of the most effective remedies for the scorching summer, but it continues to be on the dark side, especially for Bangladesh. With the heavy rainfall of monsoon and its geographical position being on the pathway of the hilly regions of Northern India, Northern Bangladesh becomes inundated in flash floods every year. Along with that, the opening of the barrages by India continues to add fuel to the fire. And this year is no exception.

Starting from the end of June, this afflictive deluge that occurs once in a decade, has submerged more than one-third of Bangladesh till now, as forecasted by Global Flood Awareness System (GLOFAS). This has escalated the risks of coronavirus transmission to a whole new level.

The main reason for this whole turmoil in the delta nation of 16 crore people is, the flash floods due to heavy rainfalls and rushing water from upstream India, as described by Arifuzzman Bhuiyan, an executive engineer of The Water Development Board. The roaring water from the hills of Northern India are intensifying the havoc in northern Bangladesh at the same time.

However, the floods did demonstrate some signs of a fall off, but that was just a procrastination of a severer one with the heavy rainfall in Assam worsening the condition, as the water level of Brahmaputra rose 70 cm above the danger level due to the runoff from Assam during mid-July.

A total of 60,000 hectares of paddy and vegetable fields have been inundated in the vile circumstances of the deluge, thus giving an insight of a probable future indigence of the farmers and the consumers.

Floods have affected farmlands approximately in 26 districts, including 39,000 hectares of Aush fields, 11,000 hectares of Aman seedbeds, and 10,000 hectares of vegetable farms, as estimated by The Department of Agricultural Extension (DAE). Other than that, these flash floods have left nearly 7 lakh families marooned, affecting over 29 lakh people in 102 Upazilas of the 21 districts hit by the floods, according to a statement issued by The National Disaster Response Coordination Centre (NDRCC).

 

 

A total of 67,414 people with their 62,923 livestock have taken shelter at 521 safety centres. Moreover, the death toll has risen to 79 with 12 new fatalities as of 20 July, according to the country’s emergency health services centre.

All these aftermaths can sum up to a severe economy crash, considering the deadly impact demonstrated by the flood. Hectares of croplands worth lakhs and lakhs of taka have inundated due to the floods. The floods caused a production loss of approximately 32,664 tons crops, worth around 104.83 crore taka.

As a result, food deficiency may be seen as well as a severe price hike, which has already been visible in some areas — troubling people with another psychological torment apart from the economic distress caused by the pandemic.

Besides, reliefs require a huge amount of money. Around 5,860 tons of rice and more than 2 crore taka in cash have been distributed among the people, as reported by the centre under the disaster management and relief ministry. The NDRCC has distributed 25 lakh  taka in cash for babies’ food and another 25 lakh for livestock feed. The authorities have also distributed more than 50,000 food packets among the people. Spending huge amounts of money in this pandemic situation will aggravate the economic turmoil.

Other than that, repairing the damaged infrastructures is another big issue. During last year’s flood, 5.66 lakh houses were affected — 33,635 were destroyed, and 5,32,643 were damaged. 292 kilometres of roads were destroyed and 6,735 kilometres of roads were damaged. The flood also razed 42 educational institutions, and damaged 4,857 others.

 

 

Considering the fact that over 33 districts have been affected due to the floods this year, the repairing cost is sure to worsen the economic distress in this pandemic. Furthermore, during the current conditions, it is highly advised to avoid close contact. As the victims are given shelter in a congested area, there develops the chance of being exposed to the virus, not to mention the water-borne diseases. These diseases affect the economic solvency of the victims. With all these in mind, the inhabitants will have to go through a very hard time, as they don’t have enough money to even lead a proper life and the cost of these floods is just adding salt to injury.

However, BDRCS (Bangladesh Red Crescent Society) is implementing early actions with forecast-based funds from the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) which will help support Bangladesh Red Crescent in evacuating people from 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.

Precautionary measures are also being taken to reduce the risk of Covid-19 by pre-positioning facemasks and hand sanitizers for distribution. But still, a certain amount of risk remains as our grappling with corona virus continues to get out of hand.

 

With Bangladesh crossing 2 lakh Covid-19 cases, this once-in-a-decade flood, as reiterated by the flood forecasting professionals, is sure to give a boost up to the ongoing recession in Bangladesh, giving the economists a severe headache. At this moment, we can only hope that things start going our way — the sooner the better.

 

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