THE government’s asking deputy commissioners and others to have the required preparedness in place in view of a ‘massive flood’ in the third week of August is important especially when flash floods have already affected 1.5 million people in nine districts in Bangladesh’s north and north-east since June. The extent of the damage caused by the recent flash flood, with the floodwater now receding, is high as standing crops on 40,220 hectares were, as the disaster management department puts it, destroyed and 60,000 houses were either destroyed or damaged. In such a situation, an early intimation for preparedness, based on a sound warning for a ‘massive flood’ towards the end of this month in Bangladesh’s central and lower areas, for the highest administrative officers in the districts, is welcome. The warning entails some tasks for both the government and the officers who represent the government at the district level. This also calls out other government agencies involved in the mitigation process of flood on doing what the government and the deputy commissioners would need to do.
Steps before the flooding could be the evacuation of people at risk. A proper evacuation could prove an effective guard against the loss of lives. When the flooding takes place, the government would need to provide relief supplies for the affected and the supplies should include food, drinking water and other articles that come to be of help in a state of being marooned. About the same time, the government needs to ensure proper health care as flooding comes with various water-borne diseases. This becomes more severe when floodwater starts receding. After flood water will have receded, the government will need to step in for rehabilitation and rebuilding. This is a massive task as the government would need to build houses that could be damaged, and repair and rebuild buildings of educational institutions so that students who may have their studies hampered because of flood could resume their studies early. The affected students many also need to be given new books and an arrangement for additional classes could be required. About the same time, the government would need to repair roads and embankments that may be damaged by the flood. The government will also need to assess the extent of damage caused by the flood and start making intervention in agriculture. Farmers who may have lost their crops may need to be given assistance, financial and otherwise, so that they could make up for the losses and get back to normal life without much of the hassle.
All this suggests that many government agencies need to be alerted to the tasks in the event of flooding and the greater the flooding the broader the tasks that the government needs to properly handle. The government, under the circumstances, would do well in not just sounding a warning for field-level administration but also in working out the plan taking all agencies on board and effectively implementing the plan so that the sufferings and losses of the people could be minimised.
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