Ever since the monsoon began this year, there was a clear sign that it would be much wetter a season than the country experienced at least over the past couple of decades. It is not Bangladesh alone but India, China and Japan have also witnessed torrential rains, landslides and floods in parts of their countries. Right now half of Bangladesh including four of Dhaka district's five upazilas and many areas surrounding the capital is engulfed by rising waters. Even rivers like Balu and Sitalakhya, which were just maintaining their precarious existence in recent years, are now swelling dangerously. All this is a consequence of heavy rainfall in the upper reaches of the Himalayan range. True to the Flood Forecasting and Warning Centre's prediction, flood situation took a turn for the worse in the northern districts such as Kurigram, Natore, Bogura, Gaibandha and Sirajganj. But its forecast has not been equally to the point for the central districts. People's sufferings in many such areas have been further exacerbated by the rivers devouring their banks relentlessly.
The prediction was that the country's northern region would experience flooding twice. It now appears that this region may suffer flooding several times. International agencies have made a dire prediction that floods in the country may prolong longer than was predicted. The calamity has befallen these people at a time when the country is reeling from the outsize impact of the coronavirus pandemic. To make the matter worse, floods have marooned or forced people to seek shelter in schools, government buildings or just makeshift shacks on dams, roads or even bridges. To the country misfortune has not come alone, but to the majority of the flood-affected people it could not have been more inopportune than when they were supposed to be preparing for celebration of their second largest festival.
There is no question of observing the festival on a customary scale as people are struggling to survive the dual blows from floods and coronavirus. Their vulnerability in a crammed living condition will increase manifold. Even many will have to depend solely on government relief or other support for their daily meals. Personal hygiene and other health protocols riskbeing severely compromised. More rainfalls mean deepening of the crisis facing them. Already out of work, the returnees from urban centres will find it extremely difficult to tide over the crisis unless an authentic list of them is prepared for taking them under the wings of special care.
Care all others affected by the repeated floods will surely need. The government's feeding programme for the poor and vulnerable will have to be expanded giving it a new dimension. Although it has been well aware of the need, its capacity is likely to be under stress. So, there is a need for non-government and private donors' intervention in this critical situation. Some of the donor countries may extend support but coronavirus has curtailed their aid packages as well. The country's rich and superrich should now come forward with funds, like Bill Gates and Warren Buffet, in order to save lives of their hapless compatriots.