Summer of major floods, Bangladesh is slowly recovering

This summer, hurricane Harvey raged over the south of the U.S. Over 200,000 households were affected and many people lost their possessions. The poorest families often get hit the hardest, especially in the long term. That is something people Southeast Asia, including Bangladesh, understand better than anyone. They meet this fate each year during the annual monsoons. The floods in August this year seem to be particularly severe however. Compared to the U.S. flooding, there was relatively little international press coverage on Southeast Asia. Despite the fact that this time, one third of the Bangladesh was immersed in water. And across the whole region, more than a thousand people died and tens of millions of lives were seriously affected.

Our project areas: repairing basins, wells and latrines 
Three of our projects in the districts of Kurigram, Patuakhali and Sunamgonj in Bangladesh were impacted, concerning an estimated 5,000 households; around 25,000 people. At least 3,800 latrines and 1,200 water wells, installed as part of our programmes, were damaged. Many were submerged by water and not usable, putting people at risk of drinking contaminated water. Directly after the flooding, and together with the communities and the local partner NGOs, Max Foundation started to repair these.

   

(photo's: building new 'maxi basins' in urban slum in Kurigram municipality)

Project staff have been advising people to clean all the structures with bleach water. The bleach acts as a disinfectant, and moreover helps to combat the bad smells. A main concern is that the risk of diarrhea and other water related diseases increases. The water is often contaminated with many bacteria and parasites.  

 
(Photo's: cleaning deep tube well with bleach water)

Surprise donation
Luckily there is good news too. One of our long term donors surprised us by donating 50,000 euros for emergency relief. We are very grateful for this generous fund, with which we can support recovery in our project areas of Patuakhali, Kurigram en Sunamgonj.

Health awareness after severe flooding 
Apart from handing out medicine after the peak of the floods, it is crucial in these situations to make people in the affected communities aware about environmental hygiene, to minimise the post-disaster impact. Our local partner organisation ESDO for example, who implement Max-WASH in the Kurigram slums, have been holding so-called health camps. In Chhatak, our partner VERC, who run our project preventing stunting in children, shared responsive alert messages on protecting health.

(photo: Max WASH staff and municipality's health department distributed medicine to the people of Char Kurigram slum in the flood-affected areas).

Though not of this magnitude, floods are common in Bangladesh
In Bangladesh, coastal flooding combined with the bursting of river banks is common; 80% of Bangladesh is floodplain. Flooding normally occurs during the monsoon season from June to September. Each year in Bangladesh about 26,000 km2 (around 18% of the country) is flooded.

If you want to learn more or offer support to our local partner NGOs in restoring the WASH services affected by the disaster, please contact Ania Sharwood (Communication manager) through ania@maxfoundation.nl.

 

Back to news overview