Dhaka – Speakers at a view exchange meeting on Sunday emphasised the need for taking coordinated efforts to ensure reaching of food and assistance to all the flood affected people in haor (depression) area until the next harvest.
Speaking at the meeting on the prevailing condition in haor areas and food situation, on the northeastern part of Bangladesh, they asked for declaring haor areas as a distressed areas immediately.
Flash floods from beginning April damaged the standing boro-paddy, the main annaul food crop in the sylhet haor areas, plus water toxicity associated killed all fishes and ducks in the haors – their natural breeding and feeding grounds. The early flash floods have also damaged homes, vegetable farms as well as sources of safe drinking water. Civil society members also demanded cancellation of lease of water bodies in haor areas and keep them open for fishermen and farmers to catch fish.
Right to Food Bangladesh, a platform of non-government organizations working with food safety, organized the meeting at CIRDAP auditorium with its chairman Dr Qazi Kholiquzzaman Ahmad in the chair.
“We had efficiently faced the floods of 98. I think, we will also be successful to tackle the flood (in haors) this time. But we all should take coordinated effort. So that assistance are reached properly to the affected people according their requirement,” said Kholiquzzaman.
He said everybody has the responsibility form their own filed to assist the flood affected people.
“It is the responsibility of the government to ensure coordination. Then, we will be able to a long term solution overcome the situation,” he said.
Kholiquzzaman, who is also chairman of Palli Karma-Sahayak Foundation. (PKSF), said the local chairmen and members are obstructing the workers of different NGOs and preventing them from standing beside the flood-hit people.
He said only government cannot reach all people rather those are working with people would be able to reach the people first.
Nirmol Bhattacharya, convenor of Citizen Effort to Protect Haor People, said a famine like situation is likely to be created in haor areas next month if sufficient food is not reached to the affected people.
He called upon the government to increase its safety net programme for haor people and reach to remote areas to ensure food access to all until the next harvest.
Demanding creation of employment in haor area he said many people are heading toward the capital looking for jobs.
SMA Rashid, executive director of NGO Forum, said the sources of safe drinking waters have collapsed because of the flash floods in haor area and they should be restored.
He further said the health situation in haor area has come under threat due to the excessive rainfalls causing the floods that may bring environmental and health hazards.
In the keynote paper, Mohsin Ali, general secretary of Right to Food Bangladesh and executive director of Wave Foundation, said that about 8 to 9 million people in flood affected areas are suffering from shortage of food half of them are facing acute food shortage.
He called upon the government for taking urgent initiatives to ensure access of food to the haor people for their survival and recommend for stopping realizing of installments of banks and NGOs during the forthcoming rainy season.
Krishibid Hamidur Rahman, Engr M Inamul Haque, Mihir Biswas, Anwarul Haque and Monisha Biswas, among others, also spoke on the occasion. – Staff Reporter