A Centre for Policy Dialogue study on the ongoing flood identified problems in flood response, including delays in repairing embankments and irregularities in relief distribution.
The prominent think tank yesterday presented their study findings in a virtual dialogue session titled “Recent Floods: Damages and Recovery Measures”.
The ongoing flood has damaged crops and killed livestock worth nearly 117 million USD till the end of July, affecting more than five million people in 33 districts, the study found.
In terms of the scale of inundation, duration, and destruction of property, this flood is comparable to the devastating floods of 1988 and 1999, the CPD study revealed.
The study focused mainly on three key issues: damage assessment, relief, and rehabilitation and rice procurement and stock.
Moderated by the organisation’s Executive Director Dr Fahmida Khatun, the dialogue session was chaired by CPD Chairman Professor Dr Rehman Sobhan. State Minister for Disaster Management and Relief Dr Enamur Rahman was the chief guest of the session.
In 97 unions, more than four kilometres of embankments have been damaged, two to four kilometres of embankments have been damaged in 53 unions and up to two kilometres of embankments have been damaged in 70 unions.
“Every year, we talk about building and repairing embankments after the floods. However, after receding of floodwater, we forget to repair and build those,” said eminent water resource expert and Professor emeritus of BRAC University Dr Ainun Nishat, one of those who spoke in the session.
“The government starts to repair the embankments just before monsoon or during monsoon with concrete blocks and sandbags which get simply washed away when the floodwater comes. In many places, funds to repair the embankments are not sanctioned in time. In many districts, embankments that were damaged in the last year’s flood have yet been repaired. In this way, huge amounts of public money are being wasted fruitlessly. We want a sustainable solution for building and repairing the embankments,” she added.
The study found that as of August 2, USD 42 million worth crops, USD 74.5 million worth livestock, 125,549 hecatres of agricultural land and 16, 537 hectares of grass land were damaged by the ongoing flood.
In addition to these infrastructures, more than 1900 school buildings, 73,343 sanitary latrines and 81,179 tube wells have been damaged.
During the session, eminent educationist and former adviser to the caretaker government Rasheda K Choudhury said, “Locations for constructing school buildings should be selected intelligently. It should be constructed at a safe distance from the eroding riverbanks. Due to destruction of school buildings, tens of thousands of school children are at risk of dropping out from the school.”
The study also revealed inadequacy and irregularities in the volume of relief distribution.
It said the two relief and rehabilitation programmes announced by the government to control flood damage was only 3.6 percent of the total agricultural rehabilitation budget of the current fiscal year.
“Local union parishad chairman usually arranges relief distribution, which often results in decision making that is not inclusive and is informed by biases,” the study also stated.
CPD Executive Director Dr Fahmida Khatun said, “Despite the long duration of floods, there are significant limitations on the government side in terms of relief distribution and implementation of rehabilitation programmes. The NGOs also could not respond promptly enough due to Covid-19 related health and mobility restrictions.”
Dr Enamur Rahman, state minister for disaster management for relief and rehabilitation, denied the claim.
“There is no irregularity or inadequacy in relief distribution. The government has extended all-out efforts to rehabilitate the affected people. The claim about bias in relief distribution is not right at all,” he said. “We are delivering food and cash assistance to all affected people. We have opened a 24/7 helpline so that anyone who needs assistance can contact us.”