HUNDREDS of flood victims, especially in the north where flooding has significantly improved, started returning home from embankments and shelter centres as floodwater started receding. The victims are now faced with an uncertain and difficult future as most of their houses have been damaged or destroyed while all of them have suffered losses in livelihood. More than 30,000 people, mostly in the Rangpur division, have lost their houses to river erosion caused by the flooding that is now wreaking havoc in central areas where rivers are flowing above the danger mark at 11 points. People who have returned home now are in extreme need of support for rebuilding their houses and starting life again. The relief and rehabilitation programmes have so far reportedly been poor as it has so far distributed only 11,518 tonnes of rice and 1.62 lakh packets of dry food and allocated, as the National Disaster Response Coordination Centre says, only 300 bundles of corrugated iron sheets and Tk 9 lakh in cash.
What is further worrying is the surge of water-borne diseases such as diarrhoea and respiratory infection, which have already left more than a hundred dead. Water-borne diseases are likely to increase in the areas where floodwater has started receding, pushing people to further vulnerability. Thousands of people are reported to have fallen ill with water-borne diseases and the situation is becoming worse as the victims are largely left on their own. The unavailability of drinking water and sanitation contributes to the surge of water-borne diseases. The local administration and public health managers are reported to have largely failed to ensure drinking water and to send medical teams to flood-hit areas. Physicians are reported to have been unwilling to go to flood-affected areas for fears of COVID-19 transmission, which amounts to a disquieting treatment refusal to the people who are burdened with COVID-19 outbreak, the consequent economic slowdown and the flooding. For the victims, the threat of ordinary water-borne diseases appears to be greater now than that of COVID-19. In such a situation, most of these people, who have been burdened with financial distress and the flood, look forward to an adequate relief and rehabilitation programme.
The government and the local administration must immediately assess the losses that the flood victims faced and help them to rebuild their houses and restart their lives. The people who have completely lost their houses must also be given special attention and support. Moreover, public health managers must send medical teams to flood-hit areas and ensure that people do not suffer and die of water-borne diseases.
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