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NGOs help bridge aid gap in Haor basin

  • Published at 04:33 pm July 30th, 2017
  • Last updated at 08:52 am July 31st, 2017
NGOs help bridge aid gap in Haor basin
Non-governmental organisations (NGOs) and relief agencies have been providing aid to the people affected by the flash floods in the Haor (wetlands) basin region in April, since the government has been struggling to reach such a large number of people in time. Government data shows 900,000 hectares of Boro paddy land was damaged, with five million people directly or indirectly affected by the flash floods in the north-eastern Haor basin. Sunamganj district administration data shows more than 300,000 families were affected in the district, but the government was only able to support 168,000 families by providing Vulnerable Group Feeding (VGF) support that consists of 30kgs of rice and Tk500. The rest of the flood affected people have had to rely on help from NGOs and voluntary agencies. “Because we were unable to provide aid to all those affected by the flash floods, a lot of the food and cash support has come from NGOs,” said Additional Deputy Commissioner (ADC) of Sunamganj Kamruzzaman. Oxfam International Bangladesh has distributed monetary support of Tk1.4crore among 3500 affected families in two districts - Sunamganj and Kishoreganj - through a consortium. “We have tried to support the affected families with direct cash because, other than food, people need the money to get back their livelihoods,” said Babul Hussain, the team leader of the consortium that consists of five local NGOs in the Haor basin. “But by no means are we able to fully accommodate everyone affected by the flash floods because of shortage of food supply and road connectivity,” he added. There is also the problem of the mismanagement of resources induced by nepotism in the affected areas. As most of the relief has been distributed in areas that have roads in the Haor basin, remote areas such as Dirai, Jamalganj has not received any relief yet. Sunil Chnadra Das Ray, a resident of Kamarhati village in Itna upazilla, Kishoreganj district told the Dhaka Tribune: “We did not receive any government aid because they are provided by the local union parishad and we do not have any delegates from this village there.” Admitting that there might have been an oversight, Tahirpur Upazilla Chairman Kamrul Hasan told the Dhaka Tribune: “Even though we have not heard of such complaints from my area, from my understanding remote regions might have been overlooked during the aid distribution process.” Flash floods are common in the Haor basin druing the pre-monsoon period, but poor management of the rivers and embankments, and the decline in the navigability of the rivers have worsened the situation over the years. This year, the flash floods came earlier than usual, while Boro farmers were still waiting to harvest the crop.
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