This year, Bangladesh has been hit with the worst floods in a decade, inundating almost one-third of the country and affecting almost 5.44 million people. The “chars”—or river islands—are located at the meeting point of the Teesta and Brahmaputra rivers as they enter Bangladesh. The region is incredibly vulnerable to the forces of the river.
Friendship’s response to the flood has been focused on saving lives, ensuring access to basic necessities, and empowering communities to respond effectively in the face of disaster.
Rescue and Relocation
The most immediate necessity on the rivers during a severe flood is boats to rescue people and their possessions. Friendship Disaster Volunteers, trained in search and rescue techniques, rescued 73 people from immediate danger and helped dismantle and relocate 114 houses.
Dry Shelter for People and Livestock
Around 1,600 people were forced to abandon their homes and sought shelter at Friendship’s schools and plinths. These are areas raised above flood levels and are equipped with basic facilities to serve as dry shelters. They brought whatever possessions they could with them, including 1,771 heads of livestock
Basic Services for Displaced People
Most displaced people do not have well-equipped shelters in their vicinity. Almost 4,000 people in our working areas were forced to seek shelter on roads, embankments, or other raised areas. Friendship constructed floating latrines and sunk shallow tube wells to give them access to water and sanitation.
Emergency Medical Camps
During a flood, people lose their mobility. It is also a risky environment as people are prone to injury and catching water-borne illnesses. Friendship’s mobile medical teams and community medic-aides have reached more than 300,000 people. Friendship’s birth attendants have safely delivered 83 babies during the floods.
With everything under water, including most sources of food, people rely on dry food stocks to tide them over. But this is a temporary solution, and during a prolonged disaster people need food support. Friendship gave 8,719 families enough food to last them through the floods.
Preventing Loss of Livelihood
Farmers have lost 8,000 acres of farmland in Friendship’s working areas. 2,830 beneficiaries received long- and short-term crop seeds to help them sow a successful post-flood crop, and sustain their families until the harvest.
Friendship Disaster Management Committees conduct meetings all year round to prepare for disasters, with such innovations as raised cowsheds and planting vegetables in movable sacks. FDMCs also map their villages and take stock of areas of vulnerability and safe places.
Empowering the Youth
Friendship Community Youth Group took their own initiatives to mitigate the impact of the floods, including constructing bamboo bridges to facilitate mobility.