Floods in Bangladesh cause devastation

August 9, 2019
Photo by Concern Worldwide

In northern Bangladesh, more than 7 million people have been affected by some of the worst flooding ever seen in the region.

The 2019 floods in Bangladesh

Heavy rains and overflowing rivers have consumed 21 districts in both north-eastern and north-western parts of Bangladesh since early July. An estimated 119 people have lost their lives due to drowning as well as factors such as snake bites and lightning strikes.

The torrential rains have damaged more than 580,000 houses. The high water levels have also left thousands of people unable to access the 1,000 temporary shelters set up by the Bangladeshi government.

In the period between 10 July and 24 July alone, it is estimated that more than 307,000 people were forced from their homes across Bangladesh.

Up to 30% of Bangladesh’s land-mass is in danger of flooding during monsoon season, with more than two-thirds of the country sitting fewer than five meters above sea level.
Severe flooding occurs every 4 to 5 years in Bangladesh, and covers more than 60% of the country.
Flooded landscape in Northern Bangladesh, Summer 2019

The flooded landscape in Northern Bangladesh, July 2019. Photo: ASOD (Concern PNGO) / Concern Worldwide

Health risks

The floods in Bangladesh also have effects on public health. A report by the Directorate General of Health Services confirmed 14,781 medical cases in northern Bangladesh during the floods.
These included:
  • 5,571 instances of diarrhea
  • 1,610 pneumonia cases
  • 1,905 instances of skin disease
  • 479 eye infections
  • 56 non-lethal snake-bites
  • 8 wounds due to lightning strikes
  • 434 injuries
  • 4,695 other cases
Even in a country where flooding and extreme weather are common, 2019’s summer downpours have been particularly catastrophic.

Our Response

Concern is currently working with local partner Rangpur Dinajpur Rural Service (RDRS) to support affected populations within the Empowering Women and Youth Project in Kurigram Sadar Upazila. We are also assessing the need for additional resources.

START funding will allow us to provide hygiene kits and cash-based support so people can access food, clothes, and medicine, as well as repair houses and purchase necessities.

We also continue to operate in the southeast region of Cox’s Bazar, which hosts the world’s largest refugee camp. Close to one million Rohingya refugees have crossed the border from Myanmar since August 2017.

Flood Resilience and the Rohingya Crisis

While the worst of the rains have hit northern parts of the country, Cox’s Bazar did experience heavy rains in early July. We continue to provide high quality nutrition programs targeting vulnerable children in the region. To-date, we’ve treated over 40,000 children under the age of 5 for acute malnutrition.

We are currently working across 8 refugee camps in Cox’s Bazar. Many homes are positioned on slopes and unstable terrain, with the structures made using bamboo and tarpaulin.

A temporary shelter in Lalmonirhat District, Northern Bangladesh. Photo: Concern Worldwide

A temporary shelter in Lalmonirhat District, Northern Bangladesh. Photo: Concern Worldwide

Our priorities for those living in Cox’s Bazar include securing rooftops on the homes most susceptible to water damage, and building canals that will force any flood waters to flow around (rather than through) the affected areas.

We have also partnered with Mercy Corps and Practical Action as part of the Zurich Flood Resilience Alliance, a combined effort of organizations dedicated to finding practical ways to help communities in both developed and developing countries strengthen their resilience to the risk of flooding.

Our team is working to ensure access to sanitation facilities and that vulnerable groups including women, children and the elderly have access to fresh water and food support.

How you can help

Concern has operated in Bangladesh since 1972, with a focus on both long-term development projects and emergency response work. You can help transform lives in Bangladesh by donating today.