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Extreme flash floods hit communities in Bangladesh

By Practical Action On 15.07.2022 DisasterEnvironmentRisk reductionNews

Practical Action's project office, flooded after flash flooding in Bangladesh
People working with Practical Action, an international development charity in Bangladesh has been deeply affected by record breaking floods.

Thousands of families have lost everything after flood water inundated crops and killed livestock after the monsoons struck with unusual force in the Sylhet region of the country.

Those affected included more than 23,000 families involved in Practical Action’s Accelerated Sanitation and Water for All project, which had just been completed.

Damaged infrastructure included roads, schools, houses and offices, as well as the Practical Action office in Sylhet were also affected.

The flooding also caused power cuts, which broke down communication within and across communities and also affected their ability to receive safe drinking water, access to sanitation, and essentials such as food and medicine.

17 schools and three community clinics are badly affected. About 23,220 toilets, 18,248 hand washing devices and 5,930 water options have been divested by this flood. Households will require support to rebuild their houses and latrines, after the rainy season.

A significant number of latrines that were built and/or renovated by the communities with their own resources through project interventions, has become unusable. Additionally, many water sources such as local wells have become contaminated.

Blue MHM friendly school latrine at Niagul GPS, Lengura union, Gowainghat after flash flooding in Bangladesh
Nehal Azmat Mohee, Practical Action’s project manager in Bangladesh said;

“This year has been the worst in terms of flooding. And this is going to happen more regularly as a result of climate change. Unfortunately, those vulnerable to climate change are the ones least responsible for causing it and as an organisation, we are determined to help rebuild and renovate the water sources after the rainy season and ensure the project is more sustainable in future.

“In our earlier interventions, we encouraged communities to make their latrines in comparatively high plinth (at least up to the plinth/level of their houses). Some did and as a result, benefited in the last couple of years during rainy season. But this year’s flooding proved devastating flood level and their houses also have been badly affected.”
Starting from the planning stage, we will focus on ensuring that project results are more stable going forward – especially as freak weather incidents will continue to happen more frequently.”

The flooded buildings of Barkipur CC of Paschim Alirgaon Union, Gowainghat, Sylhet after flash flooding in Bangladesh
Practical Action plans to support local communities to rebuild and renovate their water sources after the rainy season. However, this won’t be easy – the key challenges and barriers for rebuilding the houses and latrines includes scarcity of filling sand, required to make the infrastructures flood resilient, poor communication systems, and an immediate requirement of essential needs such as food and money for the communities affected.

Practical Action is working with UNICEF, to help the communities affected by providing community level information. Different organisations, private sectors and individuals are providing relief supports like dry foods, drinking water, cash support, sanitary napkin and medicine. As of the time of writing, the situation is improving but water level is rising again due to continuous rainfall and water from upstream (Meghalaya, India).