Thousands of people in low-lying areas have left their houses seeking shelters on high land as major rivers keep swelling for the six consecutive days amidst heavy rains. They are looking for places to stay under the open sky as they reach the nearest embankments by the hundreds, getting drenched in ceaseless rains, along with the children and the elderly in the family. What is deplorable is that no government move for help is yet noticeable. Char people are no stranger to flooding for they live in areas not guarded by embankments. No government shelters were opened in Lalmonirhat where there are 63 chars in the Teesta and Dharla rivers. The government should have opened flood shelters to people in Lalmonirhat and other places similar in geographical features. At least 50,000 people are in need of emergency shelter in Lalmonirhat. Hundreds of villages in Sylhet, Gaibandha, Kurigram, Nilphamari and Sunamganj are inundated. In Kurigram, about 20,000 people have been marooned. Flood situation in Netrakona, Chattogram, Cox’s Bazar and Bandarban are reported to be deteriorating.
The shortage of food and drinking water usually aggravates sufferings of flood-affected people. The situation also demands that government, and even non-governmental, agencies should reach the areas with emergency relief and medical supplies. But this unfortunate delay in the distribution of supplies has, no doubt, aggravated the sufferings. The government needs to see that the supplies can reach the affected areas soon and the instruction for distribution is effectively followed through. The government should not be content with the distribution of relief and medical supplies alone. It should also plan rehabilitation of farmers, with supports of various types, financial or agricultural, so that they could make up for, if not overcome, the losses. In addition to this, the government should immediately alert health officials to the impending danger in places where flood water would be receding so that any disaster could be averted. Food and housing materials should also reach the affected people in due time.
It is now imperative for the government to work out, and immediately execute, a mitigation and rehabilitation plan, focused on a proper distribution of medical and relief supplies and packages for the affected farmers and ordinary people through the government network that involves agricultural, health and disaster management officials. The government is also well advised not to just have such a plan in place but also to see that all supplies reach all the people, especially the poor, to head off any grave impact of flooding on food security and public health.
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