A. Situation analysis
Description of the disaster
With the rise of water levels in all major three river basins and the south-eastern hill regions coupled with the heavy to very heavy rainfall in the upstream Indian states and inside Bangladesh, the country is likely to witness a prolonged flood inundating low-lying areas in nearly 25 districts. The country has already witnessed a very heavy rainfall for five to six days this month and it may experience another round of very heavy downpour with a break of a week and it will cause the rise of water levels in the major rivers.
According to the Bangladesh Water Development Board (BWDB), this second phase flood this season may continue at a stretch till the end of July and it could prolong in the next month too on the basis of rainfall with water levels of major rivers remaining above danger marks. Bangladesh witnessed the first phase of flood from 26 June to 7 July 2020 affecting around 15 districts due to onrush of upstream water and heavy downpours. Yet, water levels in Brahmaputra and upper Meghna basins started rising again from 9 – 10 July and later in Padma basin causing inundating of low-lying areas in north-eastern districts of Sunamganj, Sylhet and Netrokona and northern districts of Kurigram, Nilphamari, Lalmonirhat, Rangpur and Gaibandha, northwest Natore and Noagaon, north-central Bogura, Sirajganj, Jamalpur and Tangail.
According to the Flood Forecasting and Warning Centre (FFWC) forecast, the current flood has 50 per cent chance to cross the one in 10 years return period by 21 July 2020. Thousands of people in low-lying areas are witnessing the second phase of floods this season due to rise of water levels of major rivers in the country. According to the special flood report dated on 16 July by Ministry of Disaster Management and Relief (MoDMR), so far, a total of 2,246,472 people in 18 districts are affected by this fresh flood, it also reported six people have died. Total 1,086 flood shelters are opened in 18 districts and 55,930 people have taken refuge there.
New flooding areas in Nilphamari, Jamalpur, Kurigram, Lalmonirhat, Sylhet, Sunamganj, Natore, Gaibandha, Bogra, Netrokona, Feni, Habiganj, and Sirajganj were inundated further due to overflow of major rivers on 13 July. As the flood inundated many low-lying areas in northern and north-eastern regions over the past few days, marooned people have set up basic shelter on embankments, roads, highland and flood centres with their domestic animal and valuables.
According to FFWC on 14 July 2020, due to heavy rainfall and upstream water from bordering areas, the water flow Brahmaputra-Jamuna and Ganges-Padma river basin have been increasing rapidly and it will continue over the next 72 hours. The Padma was flowing nearly seven centimeters above the danger level at Bhagyakul, Munshiganj and is likely to keep flowing above the danger level over the next week. River water was rising at 78 of the 101 points observed by the warning center the morning.
Fourteen major rivers are flowing above their danger marks (DM) at 22 stations on Monday, according to FFWC. In Kurigram, floodwater inundated vast areas more than one hundred people in nine upazilas of the district have been marooned. Flood water snapped road communication in some areas. Some 438 shelters, including schools and madrasas, have been prepared and police have taken necessary steps to maintain law and order there. Most of the unions of Fulbari, Chilmari and Roumari upazilas remained out of reach by road. In Rangpur, people in three upazilas have been marooned as flash flood hit the area after the water level of Teesta basin rose. All the 653 chars, occupying 42 per cent of Rangpur division, remained stranded. In Sunamganj, people of all the 11 upazilas are in peril as the flash flood hit the region for the second time amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
In Bogura, water of the Jamuna was flowing 94 centimeters above of the danger level at the Mathurapara point in the Sariakandi Upazila on 14 July. Many families have lost their homesteads in the remote areas of Chaluabari union in Sariakandi Upazila due to the flood.
In Gaibandha’s Sundarganj, three of its eight unions are completely under water, with all their roads damaged and eroded. In Nilphamari, flood situation in the Teesta basin area is still unchanged though water level in the river slightly dropped. Four of the right unions of Dimla Upazila could not be reached without boats. People have been living for around one week under open sky and facing huge crisis of food. Many fish and poultry farms were washed away while seedbeds were damaged by the floods.
In Lalmonirhat district, many people, who had moved to shelters after the flood in June and recently returned to repair their homes, found their houses and properties submerged again. The BWDB had also issued a red alert in the Teesta basin on 13 July. The Roads and Highways Department estimated that 35 km of roads got damaged in the first flood spell which would require BDT 545 million (approx. CHF 5.9 mil) to get repaired.
Earlier, during the last week of June 2020, BDRCS based on the forecast, with the support of IFRC has activated its Early Action Protocol (EAP) worth CHF 234,803 and provided cash grant assistance and evacuation to 3,789 households in three districts of Jamalpur, Kurigram and Gaibandha which had more than 25 per cent of household assets damaged forecasted during the first phase of the floods. The objective of the early action was to reduce the impact of the floods on vulnerable households in selected unions, but as the floods continue to worsen the need was identified to move into a response operation to complement the actions already taken.
The axis of monsoon runs through Rajasthan, Hariyana, Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, West Bengal to Assam across central part of Bangladesh. One of its associated troughs extends up to North Bay. The monsoon is active over Bangladesh and moderate over North Bay. This is likely to bring light to moderate rain or thundershowers accompanied by temporary gusty wind at many places over Rangpur, Mymensingh, Sylhet, Khulna, Barishal and Chattogram divisions and over Rajshahi and Dhaka divisions, which will worsen the floods situations in the country.
Amid the COVID-19 pandemic, many poor people are facing shortages of food, pure drinking water and other essentials and their sufferings have mounted. Flood preparation specialists have discovered that losses of income caused by the COVID-19 pandemic make it harder for vulnerable communities to face the floods in this monsoon season. The flood and landslides from this year’s monsoon season will impact communities more severely because of economic stagnation and COVID-19-related health risks. There are concerns that a lot of people will be pushed further into poverty because of this and if the communities are battered by floods that destroy or damage homes, agricultural land, schools and hospitals, it will only make things worse.