Flood relief efforts in Bangladesh are being hampered by ‘disconnect’ between government and NGOs
By Chris HoggettPublished February 04, 2019 08:56:20Thousands of people are struggling to access help after a devastating flood destroyed the country’s largest dam, prompting officials to issue warnings that a massive flood could threaten the lives of tens of thousands of people.
As more than 100,000 people sought help from floodwaters, the National Disaster Response Force (NDRIF) said it was working with the Bangladeshi authorities to build relief facilities and to provide medical care.
“It is the first time that we are coordinating with the government on a major disaster, and we have been working very closely with the NDRIF and the government,” said UNICEF’s Chief Executive Officer Paul Chou, speaking at a news conference.
“I am hopeful that we can build on that cooperation in the coming days and weeks, as the NDRF has a lot to do to help Bangladesh recover from the flood.”
The NDRIB chief, who is visiting Bangladesh, said the country was facing “a significant risk of severe flooding”, and that the floodwaters had caused landslides and damaged thousands of homes and businesses.
The floods, which hit about 90km (55 miles) east of the capital Dhaka, killed at least 31 people and destroyed about 20,000 homes.
“We are seeing a tremendous number of casualties in the immediate aftermath of the floods.
Many of them are children and women, who are trapped in their homes, trying to flee to safer areas,” Chou said.
The flooding also damaged about 30,000 structures and damaged about 4,600 homes, according to the UN Children’s Fund.
“People are suffering the worst,” Chou told a news briefing in Bangladesh.
“This is not a drought; this is not an outbreak of cholera.
This is a massive water crisis, and if you are going to be able to manage this, you are really going to need the help of people, of agencies and NGOs.”
Flood damage in Dhaka On Monday, NDRIFs chief told reporters that there were more than 70,000 registered cases of cholinergic disease in Bangladesh, and that there was no evidence of a new outbreak.
“It’s not clear that there are new cases of disease, but we are still in the midst of the worst of the pandemic,” Chou added.
Flooded homes and vehicles in Dhana, Bangladesh.
Photo: UNICEf/Saradhat ShahThe flooding in the country has forced the UN and aid agencies to halt their work in the capital.
“It has been quite challenging,” Chou explained.
“We have been dealing with flood damage, landslides, people stranded and destroyed homes.
The flood damage is not just physical, it is emotional and psychological.”
In response to a request from the United Nations, NDRFs office in Bangladesh said it would resume its activities once the country had recovered from the floods, and was looking for new volunteers to help with the rebuilding effort.
The NDRB chief also said that there had been an increase in reports of sexual assault, harassment and harassment of women in Bangladesh as a result of the flooding.
“The situation in Bangladesh has been extremely distressing,” Chou warned.
“A lot of women have been forced into the care of their families because of the difficulty of finding help.”
The National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA), the umbrella body of the NDB, also issued a warning that a flood “will have a devastating impact” on the lives and livelihoods of tens or hundreds of thousands.
The National Emergency Management Authority also warned that some people were being left to die in their own homes as they struggled to access medical treatment.
“Our advice to the people of Bangladesh is: be prepared, be aware, and be vigilant,” NDMA director general Praveen Kaur told a briefing in Dhakara.