ActionAid responds to flood in the country's south

Hundreds of children like Lima are displaced and living in make-shift houses
Photo: amiruzzaman

“I could not eat this morning. My mother did not cook yet.” – says 6-year old Lima waiting in queue to receive food supplies from ActionAid. She lives in Tala which is still submerged in flood water following days of torrential rain across the country. Satkhira and Jessore districts making up the southern coastal belt are bearing the most brunt.

Water came inside our home. The bamboos fell off and the walls cracked. So we left our home and came to live on the road... I stay hungry every day. I ate stale rice yesterday with salt and onion. My stomach was very painful when I went to bed.

Living in a make-shift ‘house’ made of bamboo sticks and plastic sheet, Lima feels safer than if she had to live in her own home. At the relief-spot near her temporary stay, Lima signed the register and received a sack full of rice, lentils, edible oil, salt and other supplies.

I am happy to receive rice and other things. My mom will cook for us. And I will eat more than what I had last night, but I have rashes on both my feet. The water is bad. Our toilet is also unusable.

Lima said.

Following rapid needs assessment, ActionAid deployed E-FAST (Emergency - Fast Action Support Team) to distribute relief among the flood-affected people and assess the situation. Because regular life is at standstill, professional groups such as labourers and van-pullers have no work to earn from and buy food with. Children are the worst sufferers.

Like Lima, thousands of children and their families are stranded in flood water for more than two weeks now. Most of them left their villages for higher grounds or local shelters effected at government schools and along the concrete roads.

As is usual after prolonged flooding, diarrhoea and skin diseases have started to surface. Source of safe water has become scarce and latrine utterly inadequate: Lima showed how within one week a two-ring toilet filled out and is now shut down. Apparently around 70 people had been using it since it was established for this displaced population. This is more or less the general picture at other shelters.

In this first phase of response, ActionAid is giving to children who are part of its Child Sponsorship programme. Soon the second phase to address larger community will start building upon at least three major issues: findings of E-FAST members who are consulting the affected people, recommendations from implementing partner and coordination among other INGOs carrying out response.