Food and water problems as floods continue to ravage Bangladesh

DHAKA, Bangladesh (AP) – Floods in Bangladesh continued to wreak havoc on Monday, with authorities struggling to transport drinking water and dry food to shelters in the vast northern and northeastern regions of the country, officials and local media said.

More than a dozen people have died across the country since the monsoon started last week, authorities said. The government on Friday called on military personnel to help evacuate people.

Ekattor TV station said millions of people were without electricity.

Enamur Rahman, secretary of state for disasters and relief, said up to 100,000 people have been evacuated in the worst-affected districts of Sunamganj and Sylhet, and about 4 million people are stranded in the area, according to the United News of Bangladesh agency.

In Sunday’s latest statement from the Flood Forecasting and Warning Center in the country’s capital, Dhaka, he said flooding in northeastern Sunamganj and Sylhet districts could worsen over the next 24 hours. It said the Teesta, a major river in northern Bangladesh, could flow above danger. The situation could also deteriorate in the northern districts of Lalmonirhat, Kurigram, Nilphamari, Rangpur, Gaibandha, Bogra, Jamalpur and Sirajganj.

Officials said the water is already beginning to retreat from the northeastern region, but it poses a threat to the central region of the country, the way for floodwaters to reach the Bay of Bengal in the south.

According to media reports, those affected by flooding in remote areas are struggling to access drinking water and food.

Arinjoy Dhar, a senior director of the non-profit development organization BRAC, asked for help securing food for the affected flood plains in a video posted online.

Dhar said they opened a food preparation center on Monday as part of a plan to feed 5,000 families in Sunamganj district, but the arrangement was not enough.

BRAC said they alone were trying to reach about 52,000 families with emergency supplies.

The latest floods have devastated Bangladesh amid heavy monsoon rains since Friday, just as the country was beginning to recover from a flash flood.

Last month, a flash flood prior to the monsoon caused by a rush of water from India’s northeastern states, hit the northern and northeastern regions of Bangladesh, destroying crops and damaging homes and roads.

Bangladesh, a country of 160 million inhabitants, is low-lying and threatened by natural disasters such as floods and cyclones, exacerbated by climate change. According to the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, about 17% of people in Bangladesh would have to be relocated in the next decade if global warming continues at its current rate.