The long-term effects of this flooding are only just beginning to materialise. Not only have people seen all their possessions washed away by the floodwaters, but they know that under these new brown seas lie the remnants of this year’s rice crop.
In normal years, the fields are harvested and then prepared for the next planting in late August and September. After transplanting the Aman rice crop in late September, the agricultural labourers face unemployment for up to two months as they wait for the crop to ripen and harvesting to begin in December. This has lead to the annual occurrence of Monga – a local, near famine condition – every year for centuries. Labourers have had to sell household possessions or their labour in advance at discounted rates to survive, whilst some move to
This is what happens in a normal year: indeed, this is something that local people try to plan for and which the World Food Programme and others have activities for to try to mitigate its effects. Yet this year, there will not be any field preparation and planting, meaning people will miss two further employment opportunities; this, and the subsequent harvest. This all adds up to an extremely desperate situation that people are facing in the long term, let alone the daily struggle to keep healthy, clean and safe in 4 or 5 feet of dirty, polluted flood water.
The scale of the emergency seems to have been downplayed by the government, and has not received the sort of coverage in the Western press that such an event deserves. This is mainly due to the slow-onset nature of flood disasters, with their protracted development that is less dramatic than the immediacy of earthquakes and tsunamis, which make much better infotainment. But whilst relatively few have died in the flooding, the after effects look set to be dramatic and disheartening.
INGOs and donors are working through local partners to distribute relief aid, but access is difficult and distribution slow. Clean water and shelter are the main requirements at the moment, as many tube wells have become contaminated by the flooding. Capitalism is making its effect known too: the price of water purifiers has doubled in
There is a desperate need for aid, and as a major INGO making a development contribution, VSO
VSOB is only asking for donations for this one week, so that we can release the money quickly. If you feel inclined, please click on the link here, where you can donate through Paypal via our IT volunteer Mikey Leung’s account.
I have had limited water supply, infrequent power, knee deep filthy flooding and overflowing sewers where I live, so I can vouch for how the television screens do not capture the stench of the water, or the feel of sewage washing through your toes, or the bites of insects in the water on your calf. Yet I have not had my shack and all my possessions washed away, nor can I not access medical treatment, and I can buy a flight home if it gets too bad. The people of
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