Conflict Alerts # 131, 29 July 2020
In the news
Since late June the monsoon has led to severe floods in Bangladesh severely affecting almost 16 districts with visible impacts ranging from human displacement, food crisis, wastage of crops/private property, and acute sanitation situations. The floods have coincided with an already existing dire circumstance created by the coronavirus pandemic. About 3.3 million people are affected, leaving almost 7,32,000 people waterlogged, 93 deaths, of which 41 children have been reported to have died from drowning. The forceful displacement has led to the crowding and cramming of the rehabilitation facilitation, raising the risk of the coronavirus spread.
Issues at Large
First, the floods are not a new phenomenon for Bangladesh. The country, since 1971, has had a troubled history of floods. Years ranging from 1987, 1988, 1999, 2004, 2005, 2007, 2015 to 2017 floods have impacted the livelihood of many in Bangladesh. However, in all previous instances, civil society has always come forward to aid the victims and mitigate the flood situations by working alongside the Government. But, due to the current issues of less urban unemployment, the urban to rural monetary transactions have been deeply affected, thereby limiting the flow of the essentials to the affected rural citizens.
Second, deteriorating environment, natural disasters, and improper planning are reasons for persisting flooding. The reasons for the flooding to persist are due to natural disasters that led to coastal flooding. Further, the melting of snow from the Himalayas along with heavy monsoon, severe deforestation in areas, and improper urban planning have also been contributing factors. Deforestation creates a problematic situation for the farmers due to soil erosion and along with-it unplanned urbanization causes massive waterlogging in cities like the capital, Dhaka. In the cities, the civil administration has failed to initiate steps to check water logging caused by improper drainage systems.
First, the Government in Bangladesh has been warned several times by agencies that more than one-third of the country's boundary will be underwater in upcoming days due to climate change. However, there seems to be a sluggish administrative response to address these issues. With areas namely Nilphamari, Kurigram, Bogura, Mymensingh, Sunamganj, and Faridpur under regular distress due to flooding, very little has been done so far.
Second, the Government needs to start planning well in advance for the rehabilitation of families after the floods. With victims having not lost property and livestock, many have lost family members and are still at risk to do so. Thus adequate measures must be taken to cater to the need of these people, especially in the rural areas. Further, the Government needs to address the problem of unplanned development in urban areas to help prevent excessive flooding in the future.