Bangladesh steps up help for people affected by multiple disasters
By Sayeeda Farhana, IFRC
Five thousand families in Bangladesh have been affected by flash floods, landslides and a tropical cyclone. The Bangladesh Red Crescent Society has deployed hundreds of volunteers to support families who have been left homeless by the flood, many of whom are still camping on the riverbanks.
In all 1.5 million people in the south east of Bangladesh have been affected by the floods since June. Red Crescent branches in Cox’s Bazar and Bandarban mobilized volunteers to distribute cash grants to 1,000 families, and dry food to a further 1,500 families. The Red Crescent is also working with the United Nations’ World Food Programme to distribute 112.5 tonnes of biscuits to 30,000 families in Cox’s Bazar.
Before Tropical Cyclone Komen hit on 31 July, volunteers from Bangladesh Red Crescent Society’s cyclone preparedness programme warned people about the dangers, and helped prepare them to evacuate to safe cyclone shelters.
However, Komen affected more than 1.5 million people across the coastal districts of Bhola, Cox’s Bazar, Chittagong, Nohakhali, Feni and Bandarban. Thousands of homes were reported flattened or flooded and power supplies were disrupted.
More than 161 Red Crescent volunteers have been deployed in search and rescue, first aid and psychosocial support.
In early August, while many of the people who evacuated are returning home, some still live on embankments in makeshift shelters.
Following the cyclone, the Red Crescent and other Red Cross and Red Crescent partners, including ICRC, carried out rapid assessments in five districts that identified the needs of people who had lived through the disasters.
The current priorities are food, livelihoods, shelter and safe drinking water. Due to a lack of cash, many people cannot afford to buy food and basic commodities. The Red Crescent hopes to distribute cash grants because flood waters have damaged seasonal crops, taking away people’s ability to feed their families and make a living.
Other priorities are safe drinking water, where the need is most acute, and tarpaulins for constructing emergency shelter.