Intense monsoon rains have affected north-eastern India and Bangladesh, affecting some 1.8 million people in India and 4 million people in Bangladesh.
The monsoon rains arrived early this year and have been described by Bangladeshi officials as the worst since 2004. Atil Haque, the Director General of Bangladesh’s Department of Disaster Management, told Reuters that the flooding in Sylhet was the worst seen in 122 years.
The rains started at the end of May and, together with water flowing from upstream in India, inundated 94% of Sunamganj and 84% of Sylhet districts in Bangladesh. The districts of Moulivazar, Habiganjk and Netrakona are also heavily affected. As of the 21st of June, ReliefWeb reported 358 fatalities and 380,000 evacuations to safety centres in India and 459,000 evacuations in Bangladesh.
Existing water points are at high risk of contamination by microorganisms, sewage, and pollution from household, agricultural and industrial sources. It is estimated that more than 44,000 water points and 49,000 sanitation facilities have been damaged by the floods.
Relief efforts are underway. UNICEF reported on the 19th of June that it had distributed 400,000 water purification tablets as well as 10,000 jerry cans of water and 1,800 dignity kits. Islamic relief teams are using boats to rescue stranded people in Sylhet and Sunamganj and has rescued 500 families so far, distributing food packages in the process.
The non-governmental organisation BRAC has been working alongside local government since the beginning of the floods, allocating a part of its budget for the distribution of dry food, safe drinking water, oral saline, matches, candles and essential medicines.