South Asia reels from floods and landslides as heavy rains continue

By Ika Koeck, IFRC

Three weeks of non-stop heavy rain has triggered flash floods and landslides across parts of India, Bangladesh and Pakistan that have impacted over a million people and caused widespread damage and destruction to homes and infrastructure.

India

India’s province of Assam is experiencing a second wave of flooding, affecting 14 districts and nearly 400,000 people in 850 villages. The worst-affected districts include Jorhat, Golaghat, Cachar, Dhemjai, Biswanath, Karimganj, Barpeta, Karbi Anglong, Sinotpur, Darrang, Hojai, Majuli, Lakhimpur and Nagaon.

Initial reports estimate nearly 14,000 hectares of agricultural land has been damaged by overflowing rivers— giving rise to food security concerns, as many of the affected communities rely on farming for their sustenance and livelihood. As rain continues, the situation is expected to worsen.

Indian Red Cross volunteers in Assam have been quick to respond, helping local authorities in search and rescue efforts and providing first aid and clean drinking water to the affected population.

Bangladesh

Incessant rains in northern Bangladesh have caused the Jamuna and Padma rivers to overflow, flooding villages in Bogra, Jamalpur, Gaibandha, Tangail and Pabna districts. Tens of thousands of people are affected, including 40,000 people in Jamalpur stranded and in need of assistance. In Pabna, over 100 villages are under water and thousands of hectares of paddy, jute, seedlings and vegetables have been damaged or destroyed.

An onrush of water from the Meghalaya hills and Assam Province in neighbouring India has submerged other northeastern districts, including Sylhet, Moulvibazar and Sunamganj. In some areas, the water has risen 14 centimetres above what is considered dangerous levels, leaving villagers stranded and in need of urgent aid.

The Bangladesh Red Crescent Society (BDRCS) has been providing a range of assistance to flood-impacted communities, including cash assistance to more than 530 families in the hard-hit district of Bogra, with support from the German Red Cross’ Forecast Based Financing Programme. BDRCS is poised to provide cash assistance to another 2,000 families in flooded northern districts with emergency funds donated by the Red Cross Society of China.

The national society is also coordinating with local authorities to collect damage assessment reports from the affected districts.

Pakistan

In Pakistan, the recent heavy rains have triggered deadly flash floods in Balochistan. Pakistan Red Crescent assessment teams are working closely with the local government to determine urgent needs and support affected families.

“The resilience of the populations affected by these annual floods and landslides is increasing, but the severity of the situation requires ongoing monitoring, coordination and investment in disaster preparedness,” said Mathieu Leonard, the Operations Coordinator at the IFRC Regional Office in Asia Pacific. “The International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies is supporting the National Societies in these areas, to ensure affected populations get the help they need and are in a stronger position to respond to future risks.”

For the latest updates in the floods situation, follow @IFRCAsiaPacific on twitter.