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With more rain expected in flood-hit Bangladesh, UN plans expanded relief drive

With more rain expected in flood-hit Bangladesh, UN plans expanded relief drive

Amid warnings that more monsoons could hit flood-ravaged Bangladesh in the coming weeks, the United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) is calling on donors to support the agency's steadily mounting relief campaign, which has already delivered rice and high-energy biscuits to 1.8 million people.

“We are getting strong indications that donors are prepared to be generous,” Douglas Casson Coutts, WFP’s Country Representative, said in the capital Dhaka. “These unprecedented early contributions to the first stage of our operation enable us to get large amounts of food straight to the homeless and vulnerable people.”

He warned that while the floodwaters are currently receding, Bangladesh may well be in for a cataclysmic flood in mid-August, when the next monsoon rains will be unable to drain into the waterlogged ground. “What we have seen so far is as bad as any floods in Bangladesh have been, but there may be worse to come, and we need to be ready,” Mr. Coutts said.

In April, flash floods destroyed a substantial part of the country’s rice crop, according to WFP. Renewed flooding in mid-July wiped out household food stocks, destroyed fish farms, drowned poultry, and left livestock without fodder. Even day labour jobs have suffered with quarries and brickworks submerged by water. Bangladesh will not have another rice harvest until April.

Mr. Coutts called for attention to the longer-term problems facing the country. “The international community must not forget about the enormous problems here after the disaster images fade from the TV screen,” he said.