Bangladesh: Flood - Final report early action DREF Operation n° MDRBD025

Situation Report
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Summary of the Early Action Protocol (EAP)

Bangladesh is well known as a land of rivers. The country is prone to flooding as it is located on the Brahmaputra River Delta, also known as the Ganges Delta, and the many distributaries flowing into the Bay of Bengal. There are over 230 rivers and tributaries across the country. Being part of such a basin and being less than 5 meters above mean sea level, Bangladesh faces the cumulative effects of floods due to water flashing from nearby hills, the accumulation of the inflow of water from upstream catchments and locally heavy rainfall enhanced by drainage congestion. The country faces river flooding and riverbank erosion almost every year. With the effect of global warming and climate change, Bangladesh is in the list of the 10 worst affected countries in the world. Recurrence of severe river flooding has also increased with the change of global climate. The climate change causes frequent severe river flooding, which is affecting not only the lives and livelihoods but also obstructing economic growth of the country. Floods have the greatest impact on people who are living in low-lying areas, living below the poverty line, living in fragile houses and have a high number of dependent family members to care for. The people who live on the Char land (river island) and on the Brahmaputra-Jamuna river basin are the most vulnerable to river flooding and bank erosion. According to the World Bank, extreme poverty rates are higher in the districts of the Brahmaputra-Jamuna basin.

On 25 June 2020, BDRCS decided to start taking measures for preparing EAP implementation as the pre-activation trigger was reached. The Global Flood Awareness System (GloFAS) forecast on 24 June suggested that on 2 July, the water level at the Bahadurabaad station will cross a once in a ten-year return period (115 000 m3 /s) and remain consistent for three days. This corresponds to an impact forecast that 3.7 million population or/ and about 1 million households will be affected. This forecasted flood depth was then combined with a vulnerability map, to estimate the percentage of houses that could be at risk of getting impacted in each union. Vulnerability map was prepared by BDRCS/GRC FbF team considering socio economic condition, topography and infrastructure of houses of the possible flood affected areas.

All unions with more than 25 per cent of houses at risk were placed on a ‘priority’ list and the top-ranking unions were selected for early actions. The final activation trigger was reached on 28 June 2020 with the five-day deterministic forecast of the Flood Forecasting and Warning Centre (FFWC) of the Bangladesh Water Development Board (BWDB). When the FFWC's five-days deterministic forecast showed that the water level at Bahadurabad point will cross 20.35m – Forecast based Financing (FbF) threshold, BDRCS with support from IFRC, German Red Cross (GRC) and other Red Cross Red Crescent Climate Centre (RCCC) partners fully activated the second stage implementation of the EAP. As defined in the EAP, the BDRCS targeted 3,300 most vulnerable households from three districts. Eight most impacted unions Kulkandi, Belgachi and Chukaibari unions in Jamalpur District, Hatia, Chilmari and Ramna unions in Kurigram District and Kamarjani and Kapashia unions of Gaibandha district were covered by the EAP and 500 additional beneficiaries from two more unions named Erendabari and Mollarchar under Gaibandha district were covered by Swiss Red Cross (SRC) - funding with technical and implementation support from BDRCS/GRC FbF team.

The planned intervention aimed to reduce human suffering and losses by providing cash assistance, evacuation support and first aid support ahead of the flood peak. As per the EAP, BDRCS targeted 3,300 households through Forecast based Action (FbA) by the DREF and additional 500 households through SRC-funding. However, 11 beneficiaries of FbA by the DREF did not receive their cash assistance within EAP implementation time duration and as per the FbA by the DREF cash modalities, BPO returned the money back to BDRCS which was reimbursed to FbA by the DREF fund. Boat evacuation support was provided in a small scale, because of the COVID-19 situation and also considering the limited time for implementing the EAP. In 3 districts, 12 boats (8 in Gaibandha, 2 in Jamalpur and 2 in Kurigram) were used to support evacuation whereas there was opportunity to hire more boats, but due to short lead time and the ongoing pandemic situation the number was limited. During the EAP implementation BDRCS evacuated 350 people with their moveable asset and livestock in the EAP implementation area. Further, people were reluctant to relocate until their houses were submerged and by that time FbF could no longer offer the evacuation support in the community.