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Bangladesh floods: NZ-funded projects danger

NZ-funded projects in danger from floods in Bangladesh

Floodwaters have entered the outskirts of Bangladesh's capital city, Dhaka, as well as the country's central districts, and at least five million people have been affected, with floods covering half the country.

Bangladeshi Bernard Gomes, who works for World Vision New Zealand says although the rains come every year with the threat of flooding for the low-lying country, this year they have been unusually severe right from the start.

"The people we are working with in Bangladesh are the poorest of the poor, and for them to suffer a natural disaster like this is an absolute tragedy. In Bangladesh the people have no insurance, no social welfare structure, certainly no money in the bank, and minimum help from the government, which hasn't the resources to do much. So the people are dependent on help from wealthier countries such as New Zealand."

More than 400 people have been reported killed by monsoon floods across South Asia today. Bangladesh officials say more than one million acres (404,700 hectares) of cropland and 100 bridges have been destroyed.

Aid agencies are already distributing food and medical supplies to thousands of homeless. World Vision Bangladesh is concerned about more than 5,000 families taking shelter in the New Zealand-funded Sariakandi Area Development Project in north Bangladesh. World Vision staff have organised two medical teams to provide emergency healthcare services and to assist the local administration in relief efforts. World Vision has provided 1000kg of rice and 200kg molasses to flood victims.

In another New Zealand-funded project in northern Tarash, which has also been badly affected by flooding, World Vision is providing emergency relief for 3,000 families.

These projects are funded by New Zealanders who sponsor children in the projects. World Vision is almost at the end of a two month appeal for sponsors for 3500 children in India and Bangladesh. "These floods certainly give urgency to our appeal," says Mr Gomes. "There is no doubt that those families who receive sponsorship are more able to cope with and recover from a natural disaster such as these floods."

Those wishing to sponsor a child in Bangladesh or India, can ring World Vision on 0800 90 1010.

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