The flood situation in the Kurigram and Lalmonirhat districts of North West Bangladesh, has deteriorated as the Brahmaputra, Teesta and Dharla rivers are all flowing above danger levels.
Over three hundred thousand people in the two districts have been living in waterlogged conditions, and scores of people have fled their homes and taken shelter at temporary flood centres. As a result, people in those two districts have been suffering greatly from acute food, drinking water, and fuel shortages. Communication and transportation have both been severely hampered, educational institutions have been shut down, and people have been unable to feed livestock because the pasture land is submerged.
The flood victims' health situation is deteriorating day by day. Approximately 40% of local medical centres are submerged and many people affected by leprosy and lymphatic filariasis (FL) have no access to health services and are at risk of developing further significant health problems. Government health officials have stated that floodwaters pose immediate dangers to human health, but also long-term effects resulting from displacement and worsened living conditions. Almost all people affected by leprosy in the two districts have lost their jobs, and are facing financial difficulties. Many are unable to access their vital multi drug therapy (MDT) because communication is disrupted, and travel is much more expensive. Extended contact surveys searching for leprosy patients in flood-affected areas have been paused due to communication and travel disruption in flood-affected areas.
Three full-time Lepra staff and eight volunteers are currently working in these two districts to help coordinate support to the most vulnerable people. In the first week of June, the Monitoring Officer of Lepra Bangladesh attended a multiagency coordination meeting where government staff sought help from national and international NGOs for the flood-affected people. Following Lepra country office instruction, the field staff identified 210 people in the two affected districts who are now living in a vulnerable situation due to flash floods. Among them were 161 people affected by leprosy and 49 people affected by LF.
Over the coming months, Lepra will continue to expand our humanitarian support for the most vulnerable communities in Kurigram and Lalmonirhat. Through working with local government, healthcare, federations and a range of other humanitarian organisations, Lepra is working to identify further people affected with leprosy and LF who are in the greatest need of support. We aim to ensure that as many people as possible have access to available government disability benefits, vital MDT treatment, and urgent financial assistance to help the people who are in the greatest need.