FAIRFIELD, Conn. (August 21, 2017)— Central and southern Bangladesh are bracing for devastation as flood waters that wreaked havoc in the country’s north begin the long journey to the Bay of Bengal.
More than 20 million people have been impacted by the region’s worst flooding in years. The death toll across the three countries stands at almost 700, including more than 440 in India alone.
"As the torrent of water moves down Bangladesh toward the Bay of Bengal we’re expecting to see the flooding get significantly worse in central and southern parts of the country, particularly for those communities close by the big tributaries," said Mark Pierce, Save the Children Country Director in Bangladesh.
"An enormous volume of water has to pass through the country, and people need to take care, stay away from flood waters and evacuate their homes as necessary. The humanitarian situation remains extremely serious and will be for some time.
"The sheer scale of this crisis means there still isn’t enough food or clean drinking water. More than half a million homes have been damaged while over 400,000 hectares of farmland was destroyed. We’re doing all we can to help, but much more assistance is urgently needed."
Thomas Chandy, CEO of Save the Children in India, warned of a secondary health crisis as flood waters began to retreat in some flood-affected communities.
"Even though we’re seeing flood waters receding in some parts, it provides little respite as the mammoth recovery operation is only just beginning," Chandy said.
"One of the big challenges is preventing potential outbreaks of disease like cholera or diarrhea, which is an increased risk at this time. A lot of water sources have been contaminated by the floods, and many children are living in damp conditions that are conducive to getting sick.
"Save the Children’s priority right now is to help families to stay healthy as they begin to return home to assess the damage and plan their futures."
More than 7,000 schools in India alone have been damaged or destroyed, raising fears that children could be out of class for a long time to come.
"The floods are having a huge impact on education, causing untold damage to thousands of schools, destroying books and other learning material," Chandy added.
"It’s so important that we can get schools up and running and re-opened as quickly as possible because school is the absolute best place for children to be right now."
Meanwhile in Nepal, the relief operation is in full swing as flood waters continue to recede following several days of clear weather. About 500,000 have been affected by floods and landslides across the country.
Save the Children is responding to the floods in all three countries, distributing hundreds of tarps for temporary shelter in Nepal, and running special playgroups for children in India to help them recover, as well as distributing hygiene items and temporary shelter materials.
Save the Children is also in the process of distributing relief items including hygiene kits, kitchen kits and cash for basic necessities like food and water to families in Kurigram and Sirajganj, the two worst affected districts of Bangladesh.
Save the Children gives children in the United States and around the world a healthy start, the opportunity to learn and protection from harm. We invest in childhood — every day, in times of crisis and for our future. Follow us on Twitter and Facebook