Forewarnings for the floods had been made well in advance this year, but the government hasn’t been adequately prepared to tackle the disaster. But it’s better late than never. At the inter-ministerial meeting held in the secretariat on 29 August, 22 decisions were made and the allocation for flood relief was tripled, indicating the government’s hurried measures to address the situation.
The flood waters are receding, but that does not mean the calamity is over. When the water level drops, the far-reaching impact of the floods then emerge. According to government data, so far the number of flood-affected persons is 5.7 million. But even after tripling the flood relief, this has not exceeded 20,400 tonnes of rice and Tk 65.60 million. This is clearly inadequate to meet the demands of so many flood victims.
Then there is the difficult task of taking the relief to the affected families. Relief hasn’t reached many remote areas. In fact, according to news reports on 20 August, no relief had reached 65 thousand flood-affected persons in Dohar and Nawabganj, which is so close to Dhaka. So, simply allocating relief is not enough. It must be ensured that the relief reaches the people. Any negligence or irregularity in this regard must be dealt with sternly. Children in particular must not suffer from lack of food or water. Oral saline and other medicines must be distributed to tackle the waterborne diseases that increase at this time.
Rapid rehabilitation of those rendered homeless must be arranged. Financial assistance and interest-free loans should be provided for those who need it. Crops have been destroyed but this is prime time to plant the Aman rice crop. Arrangements must be made to provide the farmers with seeds and other agricultural assistance.
Other than government relief, social initiatives must be taken to help the burgeoning number of flood victims. It is everyone’s duty to stand behind the hapless people harmed by the floods.