WaterAid to provide stranded Bangladesh communities with drinking water as devastating floods predicted to get worse

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The rivers embankment is repaired under the supervision of the Bangladesh Army in order to protect the locality from cyclone and flood damage. Pratapnagar, Ashashuni, Shatkhira, Bangladesh. 23 February, 2021.
Image: WaterAid/ Drik/ Suman Paul

With heavy monsoon rains and flash-flooding leaving millions stranded across Bangladesh’s Sylhet region, WaterAid is on the ground in some of the most remote areas of the country, helping communities.

Amid warnings that flooding might intensify over the coming days, the international aid organisation is working with partners to provide 2,500 families in some of the hardest-to-reach villages with drinking water and other essentials including soap to help prevent the spread of disease.

In the coming weeks and months, WaterAid and its partners will:

  • Sanitise and repair flood-damaged waterpoints and toilets in over 100 shelters – including primarily schools, healthcare centres and community centres - which have been hosting thousands of stranded people.
  • Disinfect and renovate household toilets and waterpoints such as taps and wells, to enable people to move back home safely once floodwaters recede.
  • Rehabilitate and rebuild water and sanitation facilities in communities, schools and healthcare centres, helping to build resilience against future disasters.

According to the Flood Forecasting and Warning Centre in Bangladesh, 84 per cent of the Sylhet region is now submerged with water levels continuing to rise and flooding expected to get worse over the coming days.

Hossain I. Adib, Acting Country Director for WaterAid Bangladesh, said:

“The situation is extremely grim, and the scale of the impact is only now becoming apparent as communications are being restored. Shelters are overwhelmed as many schools and other shelters where people would normally take refuge were inundated with water as well. There is a severe lack of clean water in the shelters that are in use, including health facilities and schools, so they can’t function even as the water recedes.

“Other water and sanitation facilities have been destroyed and washed away as well, meaning that clean water will be contaminated as toilets and pit latrines overflow. Communities are now at high risk of disease outbreaks, on top of everything else.

“We build our water and sanitation facilities in a sustainable way, to withstand three to four feet of water. But these floods are unprecedented, and even sustainable facilities need cleaning, disinfecting or repairing if they’ve been under water for days.

“As climate change drives more erratic weather - like record levels of rainfall, flooding, and cyclones - we need an emphasis on resilience building so that people have access to clean water and toilets and can survive this unprecedented challenge.”