Practical Action is calling for a scaling up of flood resilience work in Bangladesh after demonstrating effective early planning, warning and social mobilisation over the past weeks.
Bangladesh has experienced some of the worst flooding since 1988. To date, 32 districts have been flooded. According to the UN, 8 million are affected and 144 people have lost their lives. Across the country, 80,000 homes have been completely destroyed. People living in low-lying areas are the worst affected. In several areas, households, livestock, transportation networks and local markets are heavily impacted. In some districts, urban areas are also flooded.
Practical Action has projects in seven of the affected districts. Thousands of communities who work with our staff have been affected in these areas, their homes have been washed away and many are still impossible to reach. Across the country, 80,000 homes have been completely destroyed.
Over the forthcoming months Practical Action will work with 9,500 people living in the Rangpur, Kurigram, Gaibandha, Lalmonirhat and Nilphamari districts, by supplying survival packages, which include food, medicine, safe water supply and sanitary products for women.
In the longer term we will work with communities to build floating gardens and provide rapid growing seeds to ensure that families have food. We will also work with the Bangladesh health department to deliver a health campaign to help prevent water-borne disease.
Throughout the disaster, Practical Action’s flood resilience projects in Sirajganj and Gaibandha have been very effective in protecting local communities. Early warning messages were sent to over 13,000 people via mobile phone to alert them to the imminent floods which meant they could evacuate before the water levels rose. We have also worked to build flood-proof houses on raised platforms which have withstood the floods, protecting the families that live there as well as providing shelter for other families in the surrounding area that were not so lucky.
Hasin Jahan, Practical Action’s Country Director in Bangladesh said, “Climate change is more than a myth! Thousands of people have been affected. Families need safe water, food and they are at risk from water-borne disease. Thankfully, all of our staff are safe but many of the people we work with have been affected. Our expert teams are now working with families in our project areas to help them adapt to the situation so they have clean water and food.
“Most importantly, we need to learn from our flood resilience work. We have to live with floods because of our geographic location so we need to learn to adapt. Our early warning messages have saved many lives and helped protect livelihoods so that people don’t have to return to a position of zero. We will be sharing what we have learned from this initiative so that the authorities and other NGOs can adapt good practice to better handle such situations in future.”
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