South-east Bangladesh is struggling to recover after a heavy downpour on 23 June led to flash flooding in the three districts of Cox’s Bazaar, Banderban and Chittagong.
An on-rush of water from nearby hilly areas led to rivers in the region overflowing, causing severe flooding as well as waterlogging and landslides.
Over 500,000 local women, children and men have been affected. More than 200 have been injured and 19 killed with many left homeless and without access to basics such as shelter, food and clean water.
Local CARE Bangladesh staff believe the 23 June flooding may be the worst that has been seen in the region in the past 60 years, with Cox’s Bazaar the worst hit.
With homes destroyed, many community members are seeking shelter in public spaces such as community centres, marketplaces and schools. While some have found safety in cyclone shelters, others are so desperate they have been staying on highways.
Despite extensive damage to their homes, some families are too scared to leave their houses for fear they might lose their homes and belongings. They have attempted to escape the flood waters by staying on their rooftops.
CARE has been working to improve food security and disaster preparedness in some of Bangladesh’s most remote areas since the early 2000s.
The speed and efficiency of relief efforts so far are due to extensive disaster preparedness planning and the pre-positioning of emergency supplies by CARE Bangladesh.
‘It is a success … that the number of dead and injured is far less than it would have been 10 or 15 years back,’ says Assistant Country Director for CARE Bangladesh Arshad Muhammad. ‘This is largely thanks to the efforts put into disaster preparedness.’
CARE is on the ground now and has already begun moving pre-positioned food supplies and water purification sachets to the affected areas, assisting over 5,000 people severely affected by the floods.
In times of emergency, safeguarding the rights and dignity of women and girls is crucial. Over half the CARE community volunteers are women and all emergency supply distribution points are well equipped with female-friendly sanitation and breastfeeding facilities.
UPDATE: The flood waters have now receded. A large number of people who were displaced and sought protection from the elements in cyclone shelters, educational institutions, community centres, marketplaces, higher ground and even highways have now returned home. Some have no home to go back to however, and are relying on the kindness of relatives or neighbours.
A joint assessment by CARE and other relief agencies found that the flood waters had washed away not only many household belongings, but also household food stocks.
In response, CARE was able to distribute emergency food supplies to 5,481 families, while a distribution of non-food items will also begin shortly. Livelihood and sanitation facilities remain a central concern for the medium term recovery period.
How you can help
CARE has more than six decades of experience helping people prepare for disasters, providing lifesaving assistance when a crisis hits and helping communities recover after the emergency has passed.
You can help communities affected by disaster by donating to the Global Emergency Fund to help CARE respond to emergencies.