Cox's Bazar: Maheshkhali - Water logging

from Assessment Capacities Project, Start Network
Published on 09 Jul 2018

Between 3 and 5 July heavy rainfall, ranging from 119 to 159 millimeters, has triggered waterlogging in Matarbari union of Maheshkhali Upazila in Cox’s Bazar (Bangladesh Meteorological Department 06/07/2018). 22 out of 31 villages, are waterlogged and inundated, affecting an estimated 10,000 to 15,000 people (Government D-Form 08/07/2018).

The excavation of two coal power plants, have been blocking all 10 sluice gates and natural drainage systems in Matarbari union, which has further exacerbated the situation. Locals have removed a part of the embankment for the water to begin receding. However, local authorities of the power plant project, and a few shrimp culture owners blocked the embankment again, causing the water to remain stagnant.

Crisis impact

WASH: Latrines have been submerged, causing an outflow of feces into stagnant water. 700 latrines have been fully destroyed, and 400 partially destroyed (Government D-Form 08/07/2018). Additionally, tube-wells and water reservation systems are also inundated; 200 tube wells have been fully damaged, and 400 being partially damaged. As a result, the Matarbari union is suffering from polluted bath water and unsafe drinking water, at risk of waterborne disease outbreak.

Health: According to the community, there have been five incidents of death by drowning, of which all were children. Additionally, there have been two deaths of new-born babies, due to the lack of treatment during delivery, as the stagnant water hindered mobility.

Affected people are reported to be suffering from waterborne diseases such as diarrhea, skin disease and abdominal cramp. Three community clinics, one clinic, and the only hospital in Matarbari have been partially affected by the waterlogging (Government D-Form 08/07/2018).

Shelter: 71.7% of the housing on the island is kutcha, which are particularly vulnerable to heavy rains and flooding (Population Census 2011). They are highly susceptible to collapsing if inundated in water for long enough. According to the Government D-Form (08/07/2018), 300 kutcha houses have been fully damaged, and 400 partially damaged. Additionally, 100 semi-pucka and 200 pucka houses have been fully damaged, along with 200 semi-pucka and 50 pucka houses being partially damaged. Around 300 families are displaced and taking refuge in cyclone shelters on the island.

Food Security and Livelihoods: As villages remain inundated and floodwater stands in houses, it is likely that flood-affected people are unable to cook.

In Matarbari, the main occupations are salt production, shrimp and crab farming, fishing from Bay of Bengal, agriculture and day labor. One person may be engaged in two or more different occupations.

The unemployment rate has increased since land has been acquired by the power plant projects and the construction firms do not employ local community. Additionally, marginal and medium farmers, agricultural and non-agricultural day labor, rickshaw and auto pullers are unable to work due to the stagnant water. A few medium and large fish farmers are also impacted. Crop fields have been inundated, particularly hindering rice farmers from preparing their seeds for the upcoming planting season.

Due to the inundation of lands and fodder, people may also be in need of animal feed to prevent further losses of animals as their livestock is essential to the provision of livelihoods.

Protection: An estimated 4,700 people are displaced onto higher ground and embankments (Government D-Form 08/07/2018). Children are at risk of exploitation and abuse. Parents may be busy collecting items and restoring livelihoods, therefore children are often left unattended for long periods which risks increasing their vulnerability. Many children are at risk of drowning. Similarly, women and girls are at greater risk of be exploited or assaulted, if they living under the open sky.

Humanitarian and operational constraints

An estimated 35 km of village roads are submerged in water, disrupting human mobility (ActionAid Bangladesh 07/07/2018; Government D-Form 08/07/2018). Some local roads have been destroyed permanently due to heavy tide. Additionally, the only road into Matarbari union has been submerged, hindering access into and out of the union. Subsequently, there is an increased food scarcity and the price of essential commodities have risen.

Vulnerable groups affected

People with disabilities and older people find leaving their shelters challenging. Difficult terrain acts as a barrier to accessing relief shelter or aid. In Matarbari Union, there is an estimate of 2,000 people with disabilities according to the Government D-Form (08/07/2018).