- Floods in India, Nepal and Bangladesh have claimed more than 1,300 lives in the last two months
- According to UNICEF, over 16 million children in the three countries are in urgent need of life-saving support
- Persistent rainfall has damaged school infrastructure, apart from depriving children of safe places to stay at, and necessities like drinking water and food
New Delhi, September 4, 2017 : Hurricane Harvey created havoc in Houston in August, claiming 15 lives and displacing tens of thousands of people. The event was largely covered by national and international media alike, keeping people abreast with the latest updates. However, the floods in South Asia, which are equally devastating, are yet to receive due coverage from international media. According to data released by UNICEF, the unusually heavy monsoon over the last several weeks has claimed more than 1,300 lives across India, Nepal and Bangladesh.
In its entirety, over 45 million people have suffered the direct impact of the rains and its resulting floods.
Not enough people are talking about the floods in South Asia. pic.twitter.com/JcFd5YZtAB
— ATTN: (@attn) August 31, 2017
Floods in South Asia
For over two months, incessant rains have submerged numerous villages thereby forcing vast numbers of people into evacuation centers and relief camps.
According to a UN Agency report, over 16 million children residing in India, Nepal, and Bangladesh are in dire need of life-saving support due to weeks of torrential monsoons that have given rise to ‘catastrophic’ floods in the three South Asian countries.
UNICEF Regional Director for South Asia, Jean Gough noted that millions of children have already been affected by these devastating floods as incessant rains continue to pose potential threat. “Children have lost their homes, schools, and even friends and loved ones. There is a danger the worst could still be to come as rains continue and flood waters move south,” she added, according to a report by PTI.
According to official figures, at least 1,288 deaths have been reported since mid-August.
— The New York Times (@nytimes) September 3, 2017
Gough believes the persistent rainfall and the resulting water accumulation have damaged school infrastructure among other things which will hamper children from attending classes for weeks, or even months. According to her, “Getting children back into school is absolutely critical in establishing a sense of stability for children during times of crisis and provides a sense of normality when everything else is being turned upside down”
Among other urgent needs of these children are clean drinking water, sufficient food supplies, hygiene supplies to control and combat the spread of potential diseases and safe evacuation places for the children to stay at, study and play.
Devastation from floods in India
According to a report by PTI, in the northern part of the country, over 31 million people have been affected in four states due to the extensive flooding. Out of this, 12.33 million sufferers are believed to be children.
The tally of houses damaged by the floods has reached 805,183 while 15,455 schools have been damaged, that has disrupted the education of children.
Additionally, the heavy downpour in Mumbai has already claimed five deaths due to drowning while twelve people, including two children have died due to the collapse of a building.
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Rescue operations are being undertaken in these states by their respective state governments, which include carrying out relief, recovery and rehabilitation operations.
Furthermore, the state governments have also sought multi-sectoral planning and coordination support from UNICEF in the three worst affected states. These include Bihar, Assam and Uttar Pradesh.
Devastation from floods in Bangladesh
According to Oxfam, with the rising water levels, the flooding is believed to be the worst since 1988 with nearly two-thirds of the country currently submerged under water.
“In Bangladesh, one third of the country is under water. Hundreds of people have lost their lives.” https://t.co/YtJpKYqNZ5
— Amel Ahmed (@amelscript) August 29, 2017
More than 8 million people are reported to have been hit by the floods in Bangladesh, out of which 3 million are allegedly children. Primary and community educational institutions across the country have been terribly hit with as many as 2,292 schools reportedly damaged by the high water.
The country has also reported over 13,035 cases of water-borne diseases.
Devastation from floods in Nepal
Floods in Nepal have displaced 352,738 people from their homes, thus, affecting over 1.7 million people. The water has reportedly surfaced to dangerous levels, to escape which people are making use of makeshift rafts and elephants for rescue operations.
According to a report by PTI, damage to nearly 1,958 schools has affected the education of over 253,605 children.
Major media giants across the world are pledging their support to help combat the scale of destruction.
In a blog post, Google Vice-President of South East Asia and India wrote, “We are committing $1 million from Google.org and Google employees to Goonj and Save the Children for their relief efforts.”
The NGO, Goonj aims to offer assistance to over 75,000 affected families across India and provide them with basic needs like food, blankets and hygiene supply while on the other hand, Save the Children is focused on setting up child-friendly public spaces for the children to have access to educational material.
— GOONJ.. (@goonj) August 29, 2017
Similar organizations have taken up an active role to help rebuild infrastructure for the community like roads, bridges and physical infrastructures.
What causes floods in South Asia?
Apart from the high magnitude of rainfall received this year, the floods in south Asia are believed to have been aggravated by human actions such as reckless construction on floodplains and in the coastal areas, waterways clogged by garbage and a faulty drainage system
According to a report published by VOA, experts have pointed out the inefficiency of the governments of the three countries and have said that is has become increasingly evident that the South Asian governments were unprepared for the annual monsoon showers.
However, disaster management officials also assert that it will be unfair to criticize the governments in view of the magnitude of the floods this year.
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