UNICEF Situation Report Bangladesh floods - External 23 Aug 2007

Situation Report
Originally published
Affected population 10.5 million
Deaths 615
17 – Diarrhea
543 – drowned
42 – snake bites
13 – RTI
People affected by illnesses/injuries 68,862 – Diarrhea
17,310 – RTI
17,626 – Skin diseases
4,662 – Eye infections
172 – Snake bites
3,284 - Injuries
65,933 – Other
Schools washed away by river erosion 44
Primary schools affected 4,603
Primary schools closed 4,444
Primary schools being used as flood shelters 292
Number of government shelters 401
Number of people in shelters 114,747

Latest Update

Swelling rivers caused floods in some new areas in the north and south-central parts of the country earlier this week. Flood-affected families stayed in shelters and embankments fearing more flooding. An estimated 401 flood shelters are still operating across in the country with some 114,747 people living in them. It is anticipated that some of the displaced population will be in need of shelter, food, medicine and other assistance for up to another two months. However, there are improvements in the overall flood situation with water receding in most places. The situation is expected to be significantly improved over the next week.

The number of people getting sick from diarrhea is progressively growing everyday according to latest statistics released by the government.

The daily average of patients getting admitted to the International Centre for Diarrhoeal Disease Research, Bangladesh (ICDDR,B -formally known as the Cholera Hospital) has come down from 1000 to 800. But the estimated percentage of children admitted to the hospital has gone up from 20 to 40 per cent according to the latest estimates. Drowning remains the biggest killer in the floods with a casualty figure close to 550 – majority of them children.

Patients are also admitted to other diarrhea management units set up at various public hospitals and institutes.

A rise in other illnesses such as pneumonia, typhoid, hepatitis B, conjunctivitis and skin diseases are feared because of contact with, and use of, polluted flood water.


Some longer term impacts of the floods are beginning to emerge more clearly. The agricultural and food sector have suffered a severe blow because of this year’s floods. In time, this will have an extensive effect on the country's economy.

A price hike of 4.5 to 15 per cent is reported in staple food items such as rice and flour across the country according to the Department of Agricultural Monitoring under the Ministry of Agriculture.

Experts are concerned over inflation of essential items and possible food shortage as a combined result of the floods, damages in crops and other agricultural products, high prices of grains in the international market.

An increased flow of flood-hit people are noted toward the Dhaka city in search of work as they are finding it impossible to sustain their families in their own localities due to the post-flood crises and dearth of work. Most are farmers from northern districts affected by river erosion. Economists fear that most of such migrating population will be dejected as the capital Dhaka holds limited job opportunities.

The devastating floods have damaged crops worth about Tk. 20 billion ($294 million approximately) in 262 upazilas (sub-districts) of the 39 flood-hit districts, according to a preliminary estimate by the Department of Agricultural Extension (DAE).

The damaged crops include rice, jute, vegetable and spices on around 469,000 hectares of land, which is about 26 percent of the total cultivated crops in the affected areas.

Due to shortage in supply, farmers are facing an acute crisis of seed and saplings with the recession of flood-waters from the croplands. Most are paying way beyond the normal market price to procure seeds.

The government has only 37,000 tons of the total 82,000 tons 'Aman' paddy seeds required for agricultural rehabilitation. The government is allowing the private sector to fill the vacuum, which had a role in pushing up the prices.


Due to displacement and shortage of food children, pregnant and lactating mothers are facing malnutrition. Research on the 2004 floods has shown not only the spread of water-borne diseases among children but also a rise in the long term effects such as night blindness due to malnutrition.

Institute of Public Health Nutrition (IPHN) has started a post-flood nutritional assessment on children and women. National surveillance is also being planned in the near future.

By the end of August, UNICEF is going for a third round of distribution of high nutrition BP5 biscuits for children, pregnant and lactating women in collaboration with WFP. 25.4 MT of biscuits, mostly from the new procurement, will reach affected families in 45 upazillas (sub districts) under 10 districts.

The government has initiated a $10 million for post-flood rehabilitation programme for the marginal farmers in the affected districts. $5 million has already been released for the programme that will cover 700,000 small and marginal farmers.

Water and Sanitation

DPHE (Department of Public Health Engineering) raised 4,840 tubewells and repaired another 16,851 tubewells out of the estimated 58,947 tubewells that have been affected by the floods. An additional 37,851 tubewells have been disinfected. Another 640 tubewells and 1,842 latrines have been installed in the flood shelters.

Meanwhile, the distribution of Water Purification Tablets, bleaching powders and jerry cans continue among the affected population.

The 3,380 tube wells constructed with UNICEF support following the 2004 floods remain well above flood levels allowing people immediate access to clean water.

Tubewells near people's homes are being restored from the affect of the floods and access is being reestablished. But access to potable water to the displaced people is a problem that still needs to be addressed although the distribution of WPT, jerry cans and Water Treatment Plants are providing some assistance.


UNICEF is collaborating with BRAC, a national NGO in the distribution of 1,440 pre-positioned educational kits expected to cover 36,000 children of various age groups. Some schools have reopened in the affected districts but attendance is generally low. The Department of Primary Education (DPE) is preparing an action plan to rehabilitate and reconstruct the damaged schools. UNICEF will be supporting the provision of teaching and learning materials at school level and learning materials for students.


UNICEF is working with NGOs to reduce the trauma of displaced and separated children in the shelter camps. 5,300 UNICEF pre-positioned recreational kit bags have been distributed by partner NGOs and have reached an estimated 30,000 children in three age groups (3-5; 6-10; and 10-14 years).

811 adolescent development centers are damaged by the floods and materials destroyed. Their regular activities are suspended due to loss of materials used for different sessions including health and hygiene facilities for adolescent girls. For the protection of affected girls, the immediate replacement of materials and activating the support facilities are necessary. UNICEF will partner with BRAC, to implement this post flood rehabilitation activities. BRAC will install safe drinking water facilities in the centers including hygiene and sanitary facilities (provide sanitary napkins, soap, detergent etc) for the members (adolescent girls) in the Centers.

Also psychosocial sessions for children will have to be intensified as populations start moving back to their homes once the flood waters recede. As parents start looking for jobs or collecting relief, children will be by themselves and unprotected for longer periods. Community-level psychosocial support, vigilance and monitoring is needed to protect the children from abuse and exploitation.