For efficient flood management and rehabilitation

The floods that appeared in some districts of Bangladesh in July are still not mitigated enough in their sweep, destructions and causing of human sufferings. Already 27 of the country’s 64 districts are in the throes of flood in varying degrees. The flood waters have receded significantly in some northern districts while the situation remains rather stagnant in the central parts of the country. With more rains likely till at least the end of August, it is not yet time to conclude that we can look forward to the end of flooding any time soon.
Therefore, reaching emergency provisions of food, water purification tablets and other essential goods to people ‘amply’ who are still battling the severity of the flood continues to be important. There is no reason to feel or act lackadaisically that the floods are more or less over as we head towards the dry season. The national media has put on focus the great sufferings of the flood affected as they complained bitterly about not getting even the semblance of ‘adequate’ food and other urgent supports in their marooned conditions. We believe that even at this late hour the governmental administration should swing into real purposeful action and reach these vital supplies to hard hit people. It is remembered in this connection that on the occasion of a similar flood in 1998, the then Awami League led government earned immense appreciation by using even the armed forces to ensure the supply of emergency relief goods to the flood affected . The lethargy in mounting such efforts, this time, thus surprises all concerned.
However, it is of the greatest importance that members of the governmental administration should gird up their loins to mount post flood rehabilitation activities with real zest. This exercise must not be limited to mere rhetoric. Policy makers must realize that the floods have engulfed nearly one third of the country including a vast number of people. The quickest recovery of people from their flood related distresses would be vital for regeneration of normal life and economic activities in these large swathes of the country.
In some places, the flood affected are returning to their homesteads as destitute people. Most of them suffered great damages to their homesteads and other assets that would need urgent repairs with little or no monies in their hands. Crops perished in the fields and they would need start up monies to rebuild their homes, buy indispensable items such as seedlings to try replanting for a crop, even money to buy food grains and other edibles from open markets till they are in a position to take charge over their lives. Let us remember that Bangladesh does not have any system of crop insurance or anything equivalent. Therefore, flood hit people have no choice but to depend on the government entirely in this matter.
Post-flood rehabilitation activities therefore beg to be recognized as a very serious issue by the government. Most important would be launching these activities –immediately– on cessation of floods, ensuring that no deserving recipient is missed and distributing the dole efficiently and truly scrupulously. It should be tried not to tolerate any corruption in this endeavour.
The flood affected people would require regular hand outs of cash and other essentials till they can return fully to their homesteads and rebuild their homes and revive their means of livelihood. All kinds of start up assistance should be extended to them on most urgent basis with an eye towards quickest recovery from losses. They should be helped to get fresh aman seedlings for sowing as the waters recede from their crop fields. The greater part of the growing aman rice crops have perished under flood waters. Apart from seedlings they will need supports also in the form of free supply of other agricultural inputs.
Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina is now touring the flood affected areas. She has pledged such assistance to flood victims in spontaneous public meetings. But it is imperative to put together a comprehensive plan in line with the PM’s assurances at the ‘fastest’. Next, the most important part would be implementing this plan in a foolproof and incorruptible manner so that no deserving person or family gets bypassed.