WFP closely monitoring B’desh flood situation

WFP closely monitoring B’desh flood situation

Agency News

New Delhi, Jul 19 : The UN World Food Programme (WFP) is closely monitoring the flood situation in Bangladesh and maintaining close liaison with the standby partners in case of major impacts.

"We are also maintaining close coordination with relevant government departments as well as local authorities," Mr Herve Verhoosel, senior spokesperson for the WFP, told the UNI on Friday from Geneva.

Bangladesh’s flat topography, low-lying and climatic features, combined with its population density and socio-economic environment, make it highly susceptible to many natural hazards, including floods, droughts, cyclones and earthquakes.

More than 80 per cent of the population is potentially exposed to floods, earthquakes and droughts, and more than 70 per cent to cyclones. On average, the country experiences severe tropical cyclone every three years, and about 25 per cent of the land mass is inundated with flood waters every year. Severe flooding occurs every 4-5 years and covers 60 per cent of the land mass.

In Bangladesh, a country with over 161 million people, heavy monsoon rain and water from upstream sources have triggered river levels to rise and cause flooding in low lying northern areas -- a situation which is continuing to deteriorate in Kurigram, Gaibandha, and Jamalpur districts.

As per latest government report (Ministry of Disaster Mitigation and Response), a total of 2.35 million people are affected up till now in 115 sub districts of 20 districts.

Every monsoon, this riverine country with more than 700 rivers is extremely prone to flooding. The glaciers in the Himalaya are melting as a result of climate change. Rivers from the Himalaya flows into Bangladesh, and therefore rising temperatures results in flooding across Nepal, India and Bangladesh each year.

People in Kurigram are extremely vulnerable to climatic shocks as they live on sand banks. When there is flooding, they loose their home as well as their agricultural land and livelihoods.

Bangladesh is highly vulnerable to climate-related shocks and stresses, with a significant negative impact on the food security and nutrition of the most vulnerable segments of the population. Enhancing resilience for vulnerable communities has been a core foundation of WFP’s work in Bangladesh for decades. The WFP, for the first time has activated the Forecast-based financing during this year’s monsoon.

With the activation of the Forecast-based Finance, around 4,500 flood affected households have already received USD 53 through e-cash transfer in Kurigram district This cash, which arrived before the flood occurred, will help people pay for urgently needed food and services to help mitigate the impacts of the flood on their lives, livelihoods and assets, and providing a more timely, effective and comprehensive approach to disaster risk management.

It is estimated that around 5500 families, which means 25,000 people will receive assistance from this programme.

Forecast-based Financing enables anticipatory actions for disaster mitigation at the community and government level using credible seasonal and weather forecasts. These forecasts are linked to predetermined contingency plans, actors and funding instruments which are used to reduce the humanitarian caseload in the critical window between a forecast and an extreme weather event.

This mechanism is changing the way the humanitarian system responds to climate-related disasters: it complements the existing readiness of humanitarian actors to respond to humanitarian needs with an anticipatory system to reduce the scale of these needs before they materialise.

Acting early allows governments, communities and households to take actions days, weeks and sometimes even months before a climate shock occurs, and helps affected populations to avoid negative coping strategies. At the same time, humanitarian and government institutions who work on disaster risk management can reduce the scale of humanitarian needs and achieve significant efficiency gains.

The WFP believes that Forecast-based Financing is more effective when implemented as part of a comprehensive and well-integrated risk management strategy that combines different disaster risk financing tools to anticipate, absorb and prepare for the impacts of climate-related disasters.

Thus through Forecast-Based Financing, WFP seeks to complement rather than replace other disaster risk reduction, seasonal preparedness and resilience-building activities. This type of financing in Bangladesh is possible thanks to the support of South Korea and Germany.

Following the devastating cyclones of 1970 and 1991, Bangladesh has made significant efforts to reduce its disaster vulnerability and is today considered a global leader in coastal resilience due to its significant long-term investments in protecting lives. Despite these efforts, the vulnerability of the coastal population is on the rise due to climate change. (UNI)