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300,000 hectares of cropland damaged in flood

  • Published at 02:10 am July 24th, 2019
Flood-Syed Zakir Hossain-Dhaka Tribune
Rising flood water traps a woman in her house in Gaibandha Syed Zakir Hossain/Dhaka Tribune

4.7 million people in 18 districts suffering from food, water, and communication crisis

The monsoon flood triggered by heavy rainfall, and increased water flow from upstream, has caused extensive damage to the lives of hundreds of thousands of people across the country, displacing many from their homes.

Though many flood-hit people are returning to their homestead, inundated roads, and waterborne infectious diseases keep compounding the sufferings of the affected population.

At least 4.7 million people have been affected by the flood in 18 districts, with a larger population affected in Kurigram, Tangail, Gaibandha, Bogra, Sirajganj, Sherpur, Sylhet, and Sunamganj districts, according to the disaster situation report prepared by the Emergency Operation Centre of the Department of Disaster Management, published on Monday. 

The data includes both partial, and full damages.

A total of about 321,939 hectares of agricultural land are submerged in floodwater, putting farmers in the affected districts in trouble. At least 1,434km of embankments have been damaged as well.

About 4,968km of road have been damaged, and in some places, inundated roads are making it extremely difficult for the villagers to commute, especially when they need to travel to the nearby health complexes for treatment.

People are also suffering from a crisis of safe drinking water, as 50,430 tube-wells are out of commission due to the flood in these districts.

So far, the government has allotted 24,150 tons of rice, Tk3.27 crore in cash, 102,000 packages of dry food, and 8,000 tents as relief materials, in the current fiscal year, which began on July 1.

Rivers flowing beyond danger level in 13 districts

The latest record shows water flowing about 729 cm above danger levels at no less than 20 stations of 11 rivers in 13 districts, according to data compiled by the Flood Forecasting and Warning Centre (FFWC) of Bangladesh Water Development Board (BWDB) released on Monday.

According to the centre, when water swells, and flows into the rivers, under or up to one metre beyond the danger level, it is called a flood; when the river water swells over one metre above the danger level, the situation is categorized as severe flood. 

The FFWC usually monitors 93 river stations across Bangladesh. Among those, water levels at 34 river stations rose, while 56 fell, and three remained steady as of Monday.

Thousands of people have been affected in the districts, as rising water levels of the major rivers left people stranded in waterlogged areas, putting them at risk of contracting water-borne diseases.

Many still marooned

The situation is improving in several districts, but a significant number of people are still marooned, and in desperate need of help.

In Sunamganj, two floods within two weeks have crippled the district, mostly affecting the rural road infrastructure. 

According to the district relief and rehabilitation office, there are 88 unions in the district, where 153,785 people remain marooned. During this disaster, seven people were killed by lightning strikes, and boat capsizes.

People of Jamalganj upazila were hit the worst, as 7,950 families were affected.

 Local Government Engineering Department (LGED) Executive Engineer Md Iqbal Ahmed said: “The road infrastructure in the district has been most affected by the flood. Massive potholes were created on major roads, bridges, and culverts of the district.”

As soon as the flood water recedes completely, the renovation work will begin in full-scale, he added.

In Tangail, the overall flood situation gradually continue to improve as the three major rivers are receding. But the rivers are still flowing above the danger level.

Despite the improvement, a huge number of people continue to remain marooned, and cultivable lands, and roads are still flooded.

Rezaul Karim, assistant engineer of Tangail Water Development Board’s science department, said: “The Jamuna River, the Dhaleswari River, and the Jhinai River are all still flowing above the danger level. The Pungli, and Bongshai rivers have risen, but are flowing under the danger level.” 

In Faridpur, 30 primary schools were shut down, as the flood water remains stagnant in 223 villages, in the coastal areas of Faridpur sadar, Charbhadrasan, and Sadarpur upazilas.

District Primary Education Officer Tauhidul Islam said: “The schools had to be closed down as they were completely inundated by the flood water.”

Faridpur Deputy Commissioner Atul Sarkar said: “The flood affected families are being closely monitored, and are being provided with the necessary relief items. Until now, 280 tons of rice, and Tk2.9 lakh in cash were distributed to people of 15 unions in four upazilas.”

In Gaibandha, devastating floods washed away 70,000 homes in seven upazilas, leaving 145,000 families displaced. 

Barely able to meet their own needs, caring for their livestock is proving near impossible. These animals do not have a place to stay while food and land have become scarce. Villagers aren’t able to sell their animals and they aren’t getting fair prices at the local haats.

Abdur Rahman, a local, said: “I have been here since morning and no one is putting a fair price on my cow. The 200kg cow is worth Tk1 lakh, but the highest offer I got was Tk 80,000”

According to the district Department Of Livestock Services, there are over 400,000 cows, close to 300,000 goats and sheep in the district. Among these, 72,777 cows, 48,823 goats and sheep, and 108,244 ducks and chickens were affected by the flood.

Our correspondents Abdullah Al Numan in Tangail; Wali Newaz in Faridpur; Himadri Shaker Bhodra in Sunamganj; and Mehedi Al Amin contributed to this report