10 October 2014

THE Salvation Army in Bangladesh is providing vital assistance to people affected by flooding which has caused devastation over a wide area, with the District of Sirajganj being particularly badly hit. The Army has a long history of such ministry in the country, going back to cyclone relief provided in 1970, when the country was still called East Pakistan.

Heavier-than-usual rains at the end of August 2014 resulted in flooding in many areas of Bangladesh. The situation has caused significant displacement of people in flooded areas. Many have relocated themselves to high ground close to their homes on roadsides and embankments. People not displaced have also been affected by the water; some continued to reside in homes surrounded by water, cutting them off from facilities, while others have continued to live in houses that were damaged, collapsed and which had been inundated with water. 

An estimated 10,000 people have lost everything. Many people are having to survive with minimum food, and without jobs, shelter or medical facilities.

In Sirajganj, a local non-governmental organisation called Balaka made an appeal for help to Salvation Army leadership, which responded by sending an assessment team. On 16 September a four-member team went to the communities of Belkuchi, Chowhali and Shahjadpur before submitting a brief report of recommendation. 

As a result of the assessment report, The Salvation Army has committed to distribute 950 food packets to flood-affected people in Sirajganj. Each packet contains 20 kg rice, 2 kg oil, 1 kg salt, 2 kg flour and 3 kg pulses. The Salvation Army's training officer and cadets purchased all the relief items from a market in Dhaka before putting together the packages over two days of hard work. 

 

On 29 September the food packets were loaded onto three trucks before a being taken to Shahjadpur Upazila, accompanied by a team from command headquarters. Once there they were unloaded into a secure warehouse, with help provided by representatives from Balaka. 

The next day flood-affected people from across the district went to the warehouse to receive their relief supplies, with many sharing their delight at the quality of the items they were given. The Salvation Army team received excellent assistance from volunteers and the police, including the officer in charge of the local police station. Other local leaders also took part in the distribution programme.

Because of the excellent organisation and cooperation, the 950 packets were distributed within four hours. The affected people went away happy as there is a severe shortage of food. It was a particular help for Muslims who were preparing for the festival of Eid and members of the Hindu community who were about to celebrate Durga Puja.

Report by Lieut-Colonel Alistair Venter
Officer Commanding, Bangladesh

Tags: Emergencies, South Asia