Tens of thousands of people have been left marooned and homeless by rising floodwaters in Bangladesh.
Villages were inundated when the riverbanks protecting families’ homes were swept away.
Many of those are the same
people who survived when Cyclone Aila devastated south-western
in May last year. Work to repair the life-saving embankments made of
sandbags and bamboo had only just been finished.
More than 45,000 people are stranded in the two neighbouring sub-districts of Dacope and Shyamnagar, which were some of the areas worst hit by Aila, local officials said
The area, in south western Bangladesh is a flood plain, crisscrossed by hundreds of rivers and is at particular risk from cyclones and high tides. People rely on a 7,500km-long network of flood embankments to survive. Much of this network was washed away by the 2009 cyclone, leaving hundreds of thousands of people even more vulnerable than usual.
Flooding struck Dacope just
days after work finished to fix last year’s damage to the embankments.
Dacope primary schoolteacher Panchanan Roy said many families are now being driven to leave their villages permanently.
He blamed the Bangladesh Water Development Board, which is tasked with keeping the embankments in working order, of failing to carry out the repairs needed during the winter dry season, from mid-November to mid-January.
“Everyone knows that from March the rivers tend to swell and overflow. No repair work conducted this season can last,” he said.
“It is distressing that the repair works did not last. We are trying to stem the water flow by starting up the repair works again,” said Mosaddeque Hussain, a water board engineer working in Dacope.
People in Shyamnagar tried to finish repair work themselves, only for their work to be washed away by the Klolpetua river, which flooded 15 villages, affecting more than 25,000 people. “We repaired the dykes and our villages emerged from the water. A week later, we are homeless again,” Prabir Shaha, said. Most people have now left their homes, seeking shelter in nearby villages.
Cyclone Aila struck the coast of Bangladesh on 25 May 2009, killing 190 people. The country’s Disaster Management Bureau said more than 3.9 million people were affected and more than 600,000 houses destroyed.