North Eastern Bangladeshi residents build their houses high up to prevent floods from washing away their homes. Nevertheless, this year floods in Sunamgonj district in Sylhet division wiped out lots of houses as well as many lives!
Single mother Fatema, whose husband disappeared without a trace, and her children are among those people whose houses have been washed away by flood water this year. Fatema says, ''This year in the time of flood, we were lucky enough to be at Sreepur Village. My family and relatives had a hard time getting drinking water since the floodwaters rushed in, and they took shelter at shelter homes’.
Each year, flood affects the North Eastern parts of Bangladesh, and they struggle to save their houses, cattle, and most of the children get sick from drinking dirty water. It is true that some organisations provide dry food and drinking water for local communities, but most of these organisations can not reach all the villages. Some of them do, but they do not have sufficient resources to cover a large number of people.
The majority of those from flood-affected areas take refuge in two or three government schools. However, there are so many families living in shelter homes that even they find it difficult to use the toilet. As a result of so many people around, these toilets are dirty and unhealthy, causing various illnesses.
Fatema is speaking, holding her infant child on her lap, ''Many mothers lose their children in floodwater in my community. This type of incident is very common in our community because during floods families have been forced to seek shelter on streets and embankment sides. We will benefit from being able to learn how to swim because it will reduce the risk of drowning." she added.
Due to floods and other natural disasters, parents of many children find it difficult to cope with natural disasters, which is why many families see child marriage as the best option. Rumi, Fatem's 13-year-old daughter, says, "I've been living in Sreepur village since last year. I would have been married if I lived in my community.''
Fatema says, "Despite being saved at Sreepur Village, we have the fear of flood next year when we return to our community. Almost every year, floods affect our village since it is located in a low-lying area. Our houses should be built on plinth beams or raised columns, but we cannot afford it’’.
"As we live in a flood-prone area, we cannot ensure fresh drinking water during floods. Water purifiers or filters may help us avoid waterborne diseases’’, Fatema explained.
Rumi, Fatema's daughter, says that "Sometimes our power system goes down even for months during the flood season so if we were to have solar lights this would reassure all families, especially those with children who are afraid of the dark."
Fatema ended by saying, "We generate income from cattle in our community, but we cannot maintain our cattle safely in the case of flood since we cannot afford the kind of housing that they would need"
This year's Big Give Campaign will provide families, like Fatema's, with communication kits containing a smartphone and solar charger, 60 watt solar lighting and water purifying equipment. It will mean single mothers can return to their communities confident that they have the resources to survive future floods as a result of the climate crisis.
This year we have the opportunity to raise £30,000 so we will also provide drowning prevention training so that more families can keep themselves, other families and communities safe during future catastrophic weather events.
Please click here to donate to our Big Give Christmas Challenge.
We share with you a story of Sharifa, a mother who has had her fair share of struggles in life and who recently, along with her family, visited Sreepur to share with us her successes in life.
The sudden death of Sharifa's husband in late 2004 left her as the sole provider for her four children. With no one to turn to for help, Sharifa felt lonely, scared and desperate for her family's future survival.