By Sajid Hasan and Raqibul Alam, IFRC
Beauty Khatun, 35, was living a peaceful life with her farmer husband and three children in one of the most remote areas of Bhandarbari, Bangladesh, when a flood changed everything. One night, while Beauty and her family were fast asleep, the Jamuna River, located several hundred meters from her home overflowed and swept through their entire village. Triggered by seasonal rains, the monsoon flood which struck parts of Bangladesh in August 2017 submerged 32 districts in the country and affected more than eight million people.
Within a few hours, the water grew waist-deep. Beauty and her husband managed to save the children and take shelter on the roof of their house. The earthen floor of her house deteriorated quickly under the weight and flow of the water and she lost many of her belongings.
The next day, villagers rescued them and took the family to a dry patch of land beside a nearby dam where they lived in a temporary shelter for more than a month. While it was a struggle for Beauty and her husband, their children had a more difficult time coping with the lack of food, proper shelter and sanitation.
It took an entire month before the water receded and Beauty returned to a home reduced to a muddy wasteland. The floods also damaged the crops her husband was growing, affecting their income. It became impossible for them to restore the house and latrine, as well as provide for the entire family. Despite some minor improvements to the house, the family had a long way to go to regain the life they once had.
Following emergency relief and rescue activities, Bangladesh Red Crescent Society volunteers approached Beauty at her house, which was in one of the most affected areas in Bogra district. She received 4,000 Bangladeshi Taka (48 US dollars) and a packet of vegetable seeds to help her family rebuild and recover from the flooding.
“I’m really happy to receive the money and these seeds,” said Beauty. “I hope to buy some hens or a goat so that we can have a source of income until my husband can replant his crops and we can grow some food.”
By January 2018, the National Society, with help from the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies, distributed cash grants and vegetable seeds to nearly 13,400 families of the most flood-affected households. By the end of February 2018, the Bangladesh Red Crescent aims to reach 20,000 households.