Bangladesh 2020 severe monsoon floods | Urgent call for assistance

Bangladesh 2020 severe monsoon floods | Urgent call for assistance



Heavy monsoon rainfall, coupled with rising water levels in the three major river basins and hilly areas upstream, have led to major flooding in northern, northeastern and southeastern Bangladesh. Initially, the Forecast-based Financing Working Group predicted that five districts of Bangladesh would be affected, however, the situation is much more severe and a further deterioration is expected over the coming days. The current floods might be the most prolonged since 1988 and the water will not start receding before August, according to the Global Flood Awareness System, jointly developed by the European Commission and the European Centre for Medium-Range Weather Forecasts.

Food security and livelihoods in the country have already been heavily impacted. There has been widespread damage, including to agricultural land and flood protection infrastructure, disrupting agricultural production. Furthermore, there have been severe losses of crops, poultry, livestock and fisheries in 92 percent of the total affected unions, as well as major constraints to market access and food price fluctuations. Reduced employment opportunities, due to disruptions in food value chains, are also limiting income and the purchasing power of vulnerable households. Many households have already adopted negative coping mechanisms, such as selling their livestock below market price and eating fewer meals. This will further increase poverty levels.

The severe monsoon floods this year are further exacerbating the humanitarian situation in a country already facing other emergencies, including the ongoing coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic, the Rohingya refugee crisis in Cox’s Bazar and the recent Cyclone Amphan. The constraints to economic activity and loss of income caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, along with damages caused by the Cyclone, will make it harder to tackle the compounding effects of severe flooding. Additionally, COVID-19 containment measures make humanitarian response more challenging, as access becomes more difficult and there is a need for physical distancing long with the fear of virus transmission in evacuation shelters. 

Situation analysis (in numbers)

  • 7.53 million people exposed to moderate flooding
  • 21 districts impacted
  • about 700 000 households require food security and agricultural livelihoods support
  • 125 459 ha of agricultural land require rehabilitation
  • 57% of markets are not functioning due to inundation

Strengthening the resilience of agricultural livelihoods is key to reduce the impact of disasters on vulnerable communities.

To assist 65 000 households, FAO requires USD 4.7 million (period August–September 2020)

Along with building the resilience of agricultural livelihoods, protecting household’s productive assets from being washed away or damaged by flooding is essential. This will help them recover quickly and reduce distress migration, while avoiding the use of negative coping mechanisms.

Strengthen agriculture-based livelihoods

  • agricultural inputs including seeds, fertilizers and tools for crop production
  • emergency micro-gardening kits for homestead food production
  • cash+ to provide households with immediate income, along with providing agricultural inputs to restore/restart production

Protect livestock and fish production

  • livestock assistance including restocking (poultry and goats),feed, vaccination and treatment
  • fish-farming kits

Anticipatory Actions

Following forecasts of severe flooding in mid-July, the Central Emergency Response Fund (CERF) provided FAO with USD 500 000 for anticipatory actions to protect the agricultural livelihoods of vulnerable households. FAO is currently supporting 14 000 households in three of the most severely impacted districts (Gaibandha, Kurigram and Jamalpur) with:

  • Sealable storage drums that allow safe storage of seeds and other farm inputs. The waterproof drums will facilitate farmers to return to production activities when flood waters recede.
  • Animal feed to keep livestock healthy throughout the floods. 

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