As heavy monsoon rains and floods batter Northern Bangladesh, various efforts have been made by social organisations to alleviate the condition of the millions marooned in the region.
Tahmid Hasan from Pashe Achi Initiative, a youth-led organisation, has informed of the relief teams working in the worst-hit areas. Volunteers from both outside and inside Sylhet are working to ferry drinking water and dry food to the local population. However, the massive flow of flood water remains a constant barrier in their endeavour.
Save Sylhet is a voluntary organisation which started its journey at the onset of the pandemic to provide social services, particularly in the Sylhet region.
Mir Md Mahfuj of the organisation explains that floods have been a frequent phenomenon in Sylhet but they haven't witnessed such devastation before.
Currently, they are working across Sylhet in 40 separate teams, and are performing both rescue and relief work. Mahfuj tells that the scarcity of boats and the heavy waves make it extremely difficult to navigate through the flood waters and support the affected population.
Salman Khan Yeasin, Manager, Image and Communication, Bidyanondo Foundation describes how difficult the task has been.
“Even though the volunteers of the organisation rushed to work and decided to start the project targeting Sunamganj, they couldn't reach there on the first day due to the difficulty in transportation.”
However, from the second day onwards, after managing boats and other mediums of transportation, they reached the affected regions.
Bidyanondo aims to support the areas not covered by other organisations, in order to balance the relief work. Salman said, “People of Bangladesh have indeed expended their support for the flood victims, and the flow of donation has been significant.”
Apart from established organisations, local youths have also formed networks to help the affected population.
Prapti Taposhi, a student of Jahangirnagar University whose home district is Sunamganj, explains that initially a network was formed among students living outside Sylhet to get updates from the area.
“However, when the situation deteriorated and government help turned out to be insufficient, we decided to go to Sunamganj for relief work.”
Prapti says that even though the Upazillas of the region are in the direst conditions, without government support, reaching those areas is difficult.
“We have supported 120 families on June 20th, and plan to continue the work. There are many families who have the means but are unable to buy any food for being stuck.”
“We supported four such families who could barely drink water for the past few days,” Prapti recalls. She urges more support from the government and army, especially in the marginalised areas and flood shelters.
There have been unconventional methods for collecting donations as well. Swarobanjo, Onesshor, Amaratto and Campus Bawliana performed in different parts of Rajshahi to collect support and have collected more than 0.11 million Taka so far.
Dhaka University Film Society (DUFS) arranged a two-day long film screening and an art exhibition, the revenue of which will go to the flood victims.
While such efforts are receiving immense praise and support, the government ought to extend its support and enhance its disaster management to prevent such humanitarian crisis in the future.