Where 13-year-old Lipi lives in Bangladesh, the heavy rains during monsoon season got so bad that she and her family were forced to evacuate.
“Floodwater entered our house and washed everything away,” she said. “It lasted for a week. We stayed in a highland where there was no electricity. All of the roads are underwater and I have not been able to go to school for the last 10 days.”
While Texans begin their long path to recovery following Hurricane Harvey, communities where Plan International works in South Asia are dealing with similar heavy rains and flood-ing due to a particularly tumultuous monsoon season. The situation has become dire in regions of Bangladesh, India, and Nepal.
"We have no drinking water, no toilets, and no transportation,” Lipi said. “We don’t know how long we will have to survive like this."
Plan International is providing humanitarian support to children and families who have lost their homes, personal belongings, and livelihoods following weeks of heavy, torrential mon-soon rains in the South Asian countries.
As is the case with any natural disaster, children are often the most vulnerable. Many, like Lippi or 8-year-old Khusbu, from Nepal, were forced to flee their homes and have been una-ble to attend school.
Children are fearful for their lives and uncertain about their immediate and long-term futures.
"When I saw the water level rising, I was so scared and worried,” said Khusbu. “I had never seen so much water nor the stream nearby my house get so high. I was worried whether the water would sweep me away. My father asked us all to move and carry our personal items to our neighbor's house. Now, we have no home and I don't know how long we will have to stay in a [temporary] shelter."
“We could not sleep the whole night as our area was filled with water,” added 8-year-old Manisha, from Nepal. “The day time was also scary as the water level increased. We had no idea how we could be saved. When one of the walls fell down as a result of the rain, we started to worry even more.”
Working in close coordination with community partners, in-country humanitarian agencies, and government authorities in all three countries, Plan is on the ground and responding to the needs of those most affected by the floods and landslides, which have to date claimed the lives of nearly 250 people and displaced millions across the region.
"It took me a long time to arrive in Rautahat district, but we finally managed to travel by crossing a river as the bridge was damaged due to the heavy flooding,” said Shreeram KC, Communications Manager in Nepal. “When I visited communities in Rautahat, 80 percent of the land was flooded by heavy rain. I found children wearing wet clothes, their homes either severely damaged or destroyed. Families were taking shelter in neighboring homes that were deemed safe. Every family was asking us to provide support, as they had not eaten food in a couple of days. They were also worried about the impact that future rains may have on their families and homes.”
Currently, Plan is installing water treatment plants in Bangladesh; providing safe drinking wa-ter and education materials in India; and providing food items and tarpaulins for temporary shelter in Nepal, among other things.
“Working across all three countries, Plan’s emergency response teams will focus on meeting the immediate needs of affected families, ensuring children and their communities have ac-cess to food, water, sanitation, and other life-saving items,” said Senait Gebregziabher, Re-gional Director at Plan International in Asia.
Plan is also prioritizing the protection of children. Child-friendly spaces are being established in India, for example, to ensure that during this time of distress, children have a safe space to not only play and heal, but also regain a sense of normalcy in their lives.