MARIETTA, Georgia — Districts of Bangladesh and states in India are experiencing deadly South Asia floods that are the result of persisting heavy rainfall since 2020. The majority of these areas have been submerged by devastating floods. In response, an independent disaster prevention center in Singapore, called Mercy Relief, has sent out response teams to help people on the ground who have been directly affected.
After enduring heavy rainfall since mid-May 2020, “the north-eastern districts of Sylhet and Sunamaganj in Bangladesh and the state of Assan in India have been experiencing flash floods and landslides that have affected more than 7 million people in the two countries combined,” according to Mercy Relief. In just a single month, the majority of these areas have sunk due to the South Asia flooding, according to the Flood Forecasting and Warning Centre (FFWC) in Bangladesh.
Floods submerged major highways and roads completely which has blocked transportation and assistance to the afflicted areas as a result. “Telecommunication operators have gone into emergency mode, trying to restore their networks in hopes of helping restore swift communication,” Mercy Relief.
Almost 100,000 people have been evacuated in the areas that have been hit the hardest, according to Enamur Rahman, junior minister for disaster relief in Bangladesh. Also, state officials in Assam have reported 200,000 people finding shelter in 700 established camps in response to the flooding.
As water levels in all areas reach above the danger limit, “an estimated 7.2 million people in Bangladesh’s northeast are in need of assistance, with many having lost their homes, crops, and livelihoods,” according to The New Humanitarian. This number could rise as rescue crews have failed to reach all the affected areas.
A local school teacher in Assam noted to The New Humanitarian that he remembers watching water consume his land which spanned over two acres. “Within 10 minutes, the [water]level has risen higher than he had ever seen,” The New Humanitarian reports.
Within Sylhet city alone, floods covered 80% of the area and many community members couldn’t make contact with family members due to mobile networks no longer being operable. Floods covered the roads, which produced strong currents and prevented rescue workers from traveling into the area by boat.
Local disaster prevention agencies have been assisting the areas in which the South Asia flooding has impacted. Founded in 2003, Mercy Relief, Singapore’s leading disaster prevention agency has responded to the flooding.
Mercy Relief has sent a response team to assist those in Bangladesh and is working alongside the Humain Aid Bangladesh Foundation (HABF) to supply food and medical assistance to vulnerable families within the Sylhet and Sunamganj districts.
Mercy Relief will also be working with the North-East Affected Areas Developmental Society (NEADS) for the situation in India. “Our thoughts are with the people and families affected by the flash floods in India and Bangladesh,” said Executive Director of Mercy Relief, Angelina Ong.
According to the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies, “more than 110,000 hectares of crops have been damaged…the damage has raised concerns over whether there will be enough food,” The New Humanitarian reports.
In response, the Mercy Relief team hopes to assist over 1,000 households that have had limited access to food and clean water. The team has sent out care packages that contain food necessities, with the main ingredient being rice. Mercy Relief has supplied over 350 households with rice so far.
The team has also introduced the Water Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH) program that teaches households affected by South Asia flooding the process of purifying water, as well as providing hygiene kits. The program will supply sessions that teach proper methods of handwashing to reduce the spread of water-borne diseases.
As flooding continues to ravage Bangladesh and India, the need for assistance continues to grow. Two years of heavy rainfall have led to the submergence of districts and states in these countries. Local disaster prevention agencies have taken on the daunting task of providing support to these communities.
Mercy Relief has sent out respondents to each of the affected areas and is doing whatever it can to assist those on the ground who have had their homes and communities washed away.
– Henry Hyman