DHAKA - Plan International is appealing for increased funding to scale up its response and meet the critical health, protection, and livelihood needs of children and their families devastated by the recent flooding in Bangladesh, which has claimed the lives of hundreds of people and displaced millions from their homes.
“The situation is far from over, and will only continue to worsen if humanitarian funding is not provided,” says Orla Murphy, Country Director for Plan International in Bangladesh. “With millions of families displaced, and a vast percentage of crops destroyed, a large portion of communities will face food shortages in the coming week. If not addressed now, this could become a humanitarian crisis very quickly.”
Scores of families remain in temporary camps and many are living on the roadside without either toilet facilities or water points. With hectares of crop fields destroyed, farmers have lost their only source of income, leaving families without any immediate access to food.
“Families are selling their livestock and assets, skipping meals, and resorting to negative coping strategies, which may compromise their health and well-being. If not dealt with, families may resort to unfavorable decisions, like forcing their children to work in hazardous conditions in order to increase the household income. Child trafficking is also a potential risk as parents leave the home in search of work."
“Children living on the streets, embankments, and in temporary shelters, may find themselves in unsafe and hazardous conditions, increasing their susceptibility to abuse and sexual harassment. Without adequate privacy, adolescent girls – particularly those on their period -- are waiting until nightfall to use the toilet, increasing their vulnerability as they travel at night,” says Murphy.
Working in coordination with the government, local partners, and in-country humanitarian agencies, immediate priorities for Plan International include: distribution of life-saving materials including food, water, sanitation, and hygiene, and temporary provision of education services along with protection support.
More than 1,000 schools have been affected, which would normally provide girls and boys with a sense of safety and comfort at a time of such upheaval and distress.
Lipi (13), a secondary school student in Kurigram District said, “The flood which lasted for a week has washed everything away including our home; we are trapped in the highland with no electricity or food. I have not been going to school for the last few weeks and I don’t know when I will go again.”
In the longer-term, Plan International will restore livelihoods through agricultural means, provide skills training and cash-based support, and strengthen child protection systems at the local level in order to further reduce the risk of trafficking and exploitation.
NOTE TO EDITORS: Spokespersons are available for interviews
Photos are available here (credit to Plan International): https://mediabank.plan-international.org/?c=35022&k=51aa8d775c.
Plan International Bangladesh
Plan International has been operating in Bangladesh since 1994 and currently has operations in Dinajpur, Barguna, Gazipur, Lalmonirhat, Nilphamari districts and metropolitan Dhaka, where our country office is located. Our core areas of work are health, education, protection, and participation and disaster and climate change, ensuring that children are always at the center of our work.
Plan International Bangladesh focuses on promoting the rights of marginalized girls and boys, ensuring they are better protected from all forms of violence including child marriage, child labor, and trafficking.
About Plan International USA
Plan International is an independent development and humanitarian organization that advances children’s rights and equality for girls. Plan believes in the power and potential of every child. Working together with children, young people, supporters, and partners, Plan strives for a just world, tackling the root causes of the challenges facing girls and all vulnerable children.
For more information, please visit PlanUSA.org.