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UN launches $210 million appeal to help Bangladesh through severe flooding

UN launches $210 million appeal to help Bangladesh through severe flooding

Floods in Bangladesh
The United Nations today appealed to international donors for $210 million to help five million people in the hardest-hit areas of Bangladesh, where severe flooding has left much of the country submerged for over a month.

The funds will be directed to helping the very poor in heavily flooded areas over the next six months to get safe drinking water, food, shelter and regain income opportunities. The appeal will provide seeds, fish fingerlings and agricultural implements to poor farmers. Other people, like weavers and small shop owners, will be given support to regain their business capital.

Floods during April knocked out over 80 per cent of the rice crop in certain areas of Bangladesh. A second set of floods in July wiped out household food stocks and removed other sources of nutrition and income such as livestock rearing and agricultural day labour.

The flooding has also killed 600 people and left 20 million people in need of food assistance for the next 12 months. Approximately 3 million homes have been damaged or destroyed and the Government of Bangladesh estimates that the floods have caused $7 billion in damages.

"Many of the very poor have sold their possessions to buy food and medicines," said Jorgen Lissner, UN Resident Coordinator in Bangladesh. "Donors can assist these people to restart their lives by ensuring that they are provided with clean water, basic sanitation, food and supplementary nutrition where necessary and are able to return to a semblance of economic normality."

As part of the effort to help Bangladesh, the UN World Food Programme (WFP) today announced a four-part, $74 million yearlong operation to give food to those affected by the disaster. The agency has already provided rations of high-energy biscuits and rice to nearly 2 million people.

During the programme's first phase, 5 million people will get 30 kilograms of rice per month in August, September and October. In the second phase, in November and December, the number of beneficiaries drops to 3 million and 2 million respectively, as Bangladeshis recover their household stability and go back to such income generating activities as animal rearing and fish farming.

From January to March 2005, WFP will shift its assistance from pure relief to food-for-work programmes, giving 2 million people per month rice rations in return for their labour in rebuilding roads and houses. In the last four months of the operation, from April to July 2005, 2 million people will participate in food-for-work projects designed to bolster communities against the annual monsoon season.

WFP warned that while floodwaters are receding, further rains in the coming days could bring a cataclysmic flood, with fresh downfalls unable to drain into the already waterlogged ground.