Ongoing flooding in north-eastern Bangladesh has affected over 4 million people, including 1.6 million children, according to the United Nations.
Flooding began following a prolonged period of heavy rainfall in Bangladesh and catchment areas in neighbouring India from around 09 May. By 16 May rivers including the Surma and the Kushiyara in Sylhet Division in north-eastern Bangladesh jumped above the danger mark.
The Kushiyara river at Amalshid reached 17.15 metres on 19 May, well above the danger mark of 15.40 metres. The Surma river at Sylhet reached 11.25 metres on the same day, above the danger mark of 10.80 metres. The districts of Sylhet, Sunamganj, Maulvibazar, Netrokona and Habiganj in Sylhet Division have all been affected by flooding.
At least 16 people have died as a result of the severe weather in Sylhet Division, including 11 who were struck by lightning whilst working in fields. One person died in a landslide triggered by the heavy rain, another drowned in flood waters and 3 died in a capsized boat. As many as 96 people are suffering with waterborne diseases. “Cases of diarrhoea, respiratory infection, and skin diseases have already been reported”, the UN said.
Agricultural land and critical infrastructure, including power stations and schools, have been flooded. According to a report by the United Nations International Children’s Emergency Fund (UNICEF), as many as 150,000 families in Sylhet and Sunamganj districts have been without power due to flood damage to power stations and infrastructure. Drinking water supply has also been negatively impacted with over 1,000 tube wells damaged. Humanitarian agencies have distributed safe drinking water and other supplies to 301,500 people.
Flooding has also damaged homes and 7,439 people have moved to 95 safe shelters. Damage to school buildings and access roads has also disrupted education. After months of pandemic school closures, children are once again missing out on learning. Over 750 educational institutions have been closed due to severe flooding in Sylhet and Sunamganj districts.
“The damage to lives, homes and schools is heartbreaking. In this disaster, as in most others, children are the most vulnerable,” said Mr. Sheldon Yett, UNICEF Representative to Bangladesh. “UNICEF is on the ground to protect children and to meet their urgent needs, supporting the Government and working closely with our local partners.”