POST TIME: 6 July, 2018 00:00 00 AM
Flood safeguards immediately needed

Flood safeguards immediately needed

With the early onset of monsoon this year along with heavy spring time rainfall, forecasts were made of floods. Already, five districts are facing the natural predicament with water level dangerously high on Kaptai Lake. The affected districts are: Rangamati, Khagrachari, Sylhet, Sunamganj and Nilphamari. Reportedly, 8 spillways of the Kaptai dam’s 16 were opened to release 4500 cusec of water into the Karnapuli River.

Also the road link between Chattogram and Rangamati is snapped due to landslides. On the other side, in Sylhet, about 1 lakh people are stranded in submerged communities. It’s believed that 10 tonnes of rice plus Tk 50,000 as assistance have been allocated for each upazila and while this is laudable, the government from now on needs to take into account the caprices of nature and establish flood relief centres in upazilas which are most vulnerable. These flood shelters should also have reserve food, water and basic medication to treat cuts, bruises and snake bites.

The situation in five districts is a reminder of how unpredictable the weather pattern has become. In such a scenario, prolonged monsoon, intense spell of winter or long periods of sweltering summer can be regular features. Therefore, the preparations have to be taken early on. Naturally, crops in vast swathes of land will be devastated, leaving thousands looking for other forms of livelihood. This precarious situation will impact national growth rate and hinder overall rural prosperity.

As an immediate move, roads between Chattogram and Rangamati need to be cleared and following swift assessment of possible landslide areas, people in certain areas removed. The marooned people will be given food through district and upazila level initiatives though it would be prudent to remove people from flooded areas if rain continues.

From a different angle, taking the vagaries of nature in mind, Bangladesh needs to focus more on popularizing flood resistant crops, disseminating the right seeds to farmers in flood prone areas. Taking early onset of rain as a sure sign of a lengthy monsoon, local administrations, with the help of development agencies, need to prepare for possible floods.

The construction of flood shelters equipped with provisions at low lying upazilas is one plan which can be explored. Development agencies in rural Bangladesh should begin to attach more importance in increasing flood-resilience skills.