Mitigating sufferings of flood victims

Dhaka,  Fri,  21 July 2017
Published : 10 Jul 2017, 19:59:46 | Updated : 10 Jul 2017, 20:04:21
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Editorial

Mitigating sufferings of flood victims

The measures to mitigate sufferings of flood victims should include provision of adequate food and pure drinking water, improvement of drainage system and removal of blockages and obstacles in water flow, support for rebuilding houses, supply of crop saplings and dealing with water-borne diseases
With the onset of the rainy season, swelling rivers have taken an ominous turn. So far localised floods in Moulvibazar and in the country's north have wreaked havoc with standing crops and property. Overall, an estimated half a million people have already been hit, thousands of hectares of farmlands damaged and a large number of homesteads devoured. Rise in water level of rivers flooded six districts on a single day, Friday that is. 

As people were forced to evacuate their homes to take shelter in schools, some built makeshift huts on flood protection embankments or moved to higher grounds. On its part, the Jamuna swelled by onrush of water from upstream of the Brahmaputra and started flooding low-lying areas of four northern districts of Kurigram, Jamalpur, Bogra and Sirajganj.  Although the Surma and the Kushiyara, fed by the onrush of water from the Barak river in Manipur of north-eastern India, have started receding, there is a possibility of their rising if heavy rains fall upstream and locally. So it is better to stay prepared for worsening of the flood situation not only in the country's north but also in its middle part when the excessive waters start flowing down towards the sea.

Floods are not preventable but its fallout in terms of damage and destruction can be mitigated to a great extent. It all depends on the preparedness of the authorities concerned -- how well the problems facing flood-stricken people can be addressed. That the authorities were not adequately prepared to meet the challenges of the current floods is amply evident from the sufferings victims are undergoing this time due to lack of shelter, food, drinking water and medical facilities. Although the Ministry of Disaster and Relief has of late moved in with some relief materials, its quantity is meagre compared to the flood victims' needs. 

The catastrophic floods of 1988, 1998, 2004, and 2007 that caused inundation of more than 60 per cent of the country's lands should have helped the government formulate an effective flood preparedness strategy. Even the recent flash floods in Haor areas failed to alert the authorities to foresee the likely ravages of normal floods of the monsoon, far wetter than many recent ones. Heavier rainfall leaves little scope for adjusting to a new environment of a makeshift shelter. Children in particular are vulnerable to physical dangers and diseases. Also their study is badly hampered. All these should be taken into account while formulating any flood preparedness strategy. The measures to mitigate sufferings of flood victims should include provision of adequate food and pure drinking water, improvement of drainage system and removal of blockages and obstacles in water flow, support for rebuilding houses, supplying crop saplings and dealing with water-borne diseases. Each of these floods is different in nature. So, apart from relief operations, they deserve different types of management and various measures for mitigation of the victims' sufferings.
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Editor : A.H.M Moazzem Hossain
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