BANGKOK, 11 July 2012 (IRIN) - Thousands of people have been left food insecure after extensive flooding, landslides and flash floods in eastern Bangladesh at the end of June. Crops and seed stocks have been badly damaged and it will be three to four months before farmers are able to replant.
“We need to support the villagers now or we will face serious food shortages in the region soon,” Matiur Rahman, director of the Bangladesh Red Crescent Society (BDRCS), told IRIN. “Until the next harvest we need to support the communities with cash and seedlings.”
Fazlul Haque, Joint Secretary of the Disaster Management and Relief Division (DMRD), said the loss of rice paddies and livestock in the floods had badly shaken the livelihoods of millions who depend on agriculture.
The government estimates that more than 1,000 hectares of seasonal crops were destroyed in eastern Bangladesh, while scores of poultry farms and fish hatcheries were swept away.
“The Ministry of Agriculture is closely monitoring the situation in order to allocate aid to the farmers,” Haque said. “But rescue operations are now over and we are concentrating on relief aid, providing tarpaulins, plastic sheeting, medicine, dry food and water purification tablets to affected districts.”
An estimated five million people were affected by days of exceptionally heavy rain, and the government says some 58,000 were displaced, but humanitarian partners on the ground say the real number was significantly higher.
At least 131 people in four districts lost their lives when houses collapsed and roads were flooded, the DMRD reported. Among the eight districts impacted, Sylhet District in the northeast, and Chittagong, Cox’s Bazar, and Bandarban districts in the southeast were the worst affected.
At the beginning of July, the World Food Programme (WFP) in Bangladesh conducted a rapid needs assessment in the three most affected districts in the southeast, where more than 100,000 people lost their homes and are in need of immediate assistance.
Most of the displaced had returned to their homes by 11 July, WFP reported. “There will of course be an impact on food security because seedbeds have been affected, but it is difficult to quantify this currently,” said Michael Dunford, WFP deputy country director. “The next harvest season is not until October. WFP and others will continue to monitor the situation.”