August 02, 2007

Flood in South Asia

As I type now nearly 20 million people in South Asia are stranded due to massive floods. The main reason is the incessant rain across the region since mid-June had caused the snows in Himalaya region melt and the river banks were inundated with excess water. By now more than 1000 people have died in this region alone. Click here for pictures of floods in Asia.

Now it seems that this year flood will really take its toll in Bangladesh. Although suffering from water-log Dhaka city is surviving because of the circular dam built after the great 1988 flood. But it is surrounded by water and the flood water is looking for a breakthrough to cause larger disaster. Nearly five million people in more than 30 districts are effected by this flood. Al Jazeera says that half of the country has been submerged. (Picture courtesy the New Nation)

The main concern for this year's flood is the relief operation. This has been undertaken single handedly by the caretaker government which has put all of its resources including the army. But time and again we have seen that non governmental and political organizations efforts do make a lot of difference as they reach to masses. Its not about will its about lack of resources and shortage of manpower in governmental institutions. But as the politics is banned, there are no such initiatives in sight. And the NGOs seem in two minds about what to do.

Till today World Vision has joined Bangladesh Government in their relief efforts. United Kingdom is providing 2.5 million USD aid for Bangladesh flood victims. DFID's own chars livelihoods program will provide additional 1 million USD flood relief efforts in their operation areas in five districts in the northern region.

But we are getting reports that millions of affected people in remote areas are yet to received any relief. Simply biscuits and water are not enough. As the clean water sources are effected there is a dire need of water cleaning tablets to keep people away from waterborne diseases. There should be medical teams, make-shift shelters. There are a lot to be done to prevent an epidemic. Shada Kalo Blog terms it the Cartaker government's Katrina syndrome. The Daily Star says in an editorial:
While the government machinery has been trying to handle the situation, it is fairly obvious that the involvement of the wider community has now become necessary in order for succor to reach as many people as possible in the flood-hit areas.
Bangladesh has survived many great floods. Its stubborn people have lost everything and started again from the scratch (Tanvir portrays one of such characters). In this moment of truth let us all help these people survive. We know how to do it. Just we have do do it all together, in concert.

Update: Change Bangladesh has started a fund raising effort. Please donate if you can.

Related articles:

* No flood-relief work by Bangladeshi politicians this time.

* Is Dhaka prepared for the flood?


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