Three months after the floods, this correspondent visited one of the communities in Shibchar of Madaripur, a region where the impacts of the floods were clearly visible
Heavy rains in Bangladesh triggered flash floods and river erosions across the country’s southern parts this year. Some families lost everything, including their homes, income, and crops. They now face an uncertain future as they have no financial help from the government or any corner.
According to sources, most chars in Madaripur district were flooded by late July, and a visit by this correspondent at the time showed submerged islands, houses washed away and crops destroyed. There was no sign of life, trees or vegetation. Most families had left the chars in search of shelter or were living temporarily on boats. Most riverside villages were also inundated.
Three months after the floods, this correspondent visited one of the communities in Shibchar of Madaripur, a region where the impacts of the floods were clearly visible.
Mozammel Haque, one of the flood victims in Shibchar, had been transferred to a relative's house in Raghurampur village, where his family of six shared a room. He does not know when he could return home. When he first arrived at the house, his family had nothing to eat as flood destroyed everything. Now he is working as a day labourer in the village.
Like Mozammel, more than 1,450 families had been relocated this year due to heavy flooding.
Floods, erosion and displacement have been a constant for these people who live on riverine islands across the southern part of the country.
Since childhood, 60-year-old Mozammel has shifted from one char to another.
“Every time a flood comes, it destroys our house, crops and takes the lives of many. Everything is washed away by the mighty Arial Khan River, leaving us without shelter, food or livelihood. But life goes on. People move to a new char for livelihood and shelter,” said Mozammel.
This year floods submerged the char and washed away his house and cattle, but he and his family escaped with their lives.
Marzina, a widow and thousands of others from Shibchar have taken shelter near the highway under the open sky, amid the fear of Covid–19.
Marzina clearly recalls the first couple of days after the floods when her family was forced to survive on a handful of beaten rice provided by the local UP chairman.
“I had no money, and no food. The flood took everything away,” she said.
Now Marzina has decided to go to her land but she has no money or any financial support from any corner including the government.
Many people and their families who were hit by floods lost their relatives, livelihoods and were forced to live with little water or food. Many lack access to cooking facilities, and are now vulnerable to poverty with deteriorating food security, and a lack of income.
They urged the government to help them financially to make houses.
Madaripur District Relief and Rehabilitation Officer Abed Ali said a list of 1,450 people, who have lost everything due to flood this year, has been sent to Dhaka office for financial help.
“When we get the fund, rehabilitation work will be started,” he also said.
In Madaripur, the Padma River was flowing 70cm above the danger level, leaving around 65,000 people marooned in four upazilas this year.
Hundreds of houses along the riverbank in Shibchar upazila went into the gorge of the river. Thousands of people are now living in inhumane conditions in Kathalbari, Nilokhi, Madbarer Char, Sannasirchar, Daopara, Char Hajera and Bazlu Sarkarer Char areas of the upazila.
In Madaripur Sadar, 10 out of the 15 unions have been inundated as the water of Arial Khan River was flowing 40cm above the danger level. A total of 72 houses have been submerged in a day in upazila.
The entire three-storey SESDP Model High School building sank into the Padma River as riverbanks gave way in Nuruddin Madborkandi village in Shibchar upazila of Madaripur.
Around 300 students from 24 villages studied at the school founded in 2009. The students were mostly from small villages in remote Char areas and it was the only school for them close to home and the building had adequate facilities.
Rising water levels in most of the rivers in the Ganga basin, caused by heavy downpours and a rush of water from upriver India, worsened the flood situation in August. Over a million people are still marooned without drinking water or proper sanitation, said district officials.