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Bangladesh: With The Floods Come Disease

Bangladesh: With the floods come disease

With half of Dhaka now under water, five million people fleeing the city's inundated areas, and two thirds of Bangladesh affected by serious flooding, aid workers are now worried about accompanying diseases.

World Vision New Zealand is concerned about the safety of seven thousand children sponsored by New Zealanders in three of its severely affected projects, and has increased its relief aid to these affected areas to $140,000.

"Millions of people are now at risk from disease and illnesses as the drinking wells flood and people are forced to drink putrid flood water that has been contaminated by human and animal waste," says World Vision NZ CEO, Helen Green, who visited Bangladesh recently.

Bangladeshis have either fled to higher ground, are somehow living amid the swirling waters or have made temporary shelters on roadsides, or in schools and other public buildings. Most schools, including Dhaka University have closed.

"The floods have come at a terrible time," says Mrs Green, "Just as people prepare to harvest their rice crops and plant new seedlings for the next growing season. Many thousands of acres of crops have been decimated and people risk hunger."

World Vision Bangladesh has already started supplying relief to thousands of families in 19 of its project areas. Relief packages contain rice, pulse, potatoes, oil, salt, baby milk, sujee (cereal), sugar, matches, candles, and oral saline packs. World Vision, together with USAID, has pledged a total of US$640,363. Two hundred tons of USAID-funded food aid is also being distributed to a number of World Vision projects.

WV Bangladesh national director Daniel Selvanayagam says: "In some areas we are buying supplies from the local market, in other areas we are trucking it in and in some it is being taken in by boat. By Thursday almost all the relief will have been distributed to some 75,000 families."

Many families are taking shelter in cyclone and flood shelters that have been constructed by World Vision.

World Vision Bangladesh's ongoing work in disaster management means there are now specially trained teams who are able to ensure relief supplies are rapidly distributed to the community.


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