Bangladesh rice crop destroyed by floods, government delays Caritas' aid
The incessant rains flooded five districts. 300,000 farmers are on the run. All the production of boron rice is damaged. Tons of dead fish due to oxygen shortage in the waters. Farmers do not know how to repay their debts and feed their families.
Dhaka (AsiaNews) - Approximately 300,000 farmers in the marshy area of Haor, in the northeastern Bangladesh, are stranded because of the steady rains that have been falling in five districts for weeks. The rains have flooded the fields and destroyed the seasonal harvest.
Local peoples, mainly farmers and fishermen, have lost all means of subsistence. They are desperate, since the proceeds of the harvest would have been used to repay the bank loans and to feed their families.
Dhaka authorities began distributing aid to tackle the emergency. Speaking to AsiaNews Caritas Bangladesh Disaster Manager, Pintu William Gomes, however, complains that the social arm of the Catholic Church "we are ready to help relief populations affected by floods, but the government has not yet given us permission".
The rains hit the districts of Moulovibazar, Habiganj, Sunamganj, Kishorganj and Netrokana just before the harvest time. Millions of people live in the Haor area, characterized by an aquatic ecosystem. The area is famous for the cultivation of boron rice (which grows from October to March), and produces 6% of the entire national rice volume. The flood not only destroyed this year's harvest, but has created permanent damage to 50% of the fields. In addition tons of fish died have because of the lack of oxygen in the waters.
According to local farmers, the rainfall in recent weeks has broken the banks of some dams. Peasants blame the government for poor maintenance and rampant corruption among the Bangladesh Water Development Board officials, who should have ascertained the solidity of the barrage system and restored any damage. On the other hand, Anisul Islam Mahmud, Minister of Water Resources, said today that the crisis is due to exceptional rainfall and not to the damage caused by the flooding of the dams.
Farid Uddin, a farmer from Moulovibazar, states: "I lost the crop. I had asked the bank for a loan, but now my rice is underwater. How will I repay the money? " Mohammad Moyes of the Sunamganj District adds: "I was supposed to harvest the crop in one week. With my boron rice I would have fed my family for a whole year. Now how will I get food for my family?".