Food after the floods

May 1, 2017 - 12:00am -- Living City

Food after the floods
Help for affected families in Bangladesh

Some 42,500 people in northwest Bangladesh will receive financial assistance through a United Nationals World Food Program initiative, enabling them to buy food and other necessities they lost when the area was hit by recurrent monsoon floods in August.

The poorest families in the worst-affected areas of Kurigram, Gaibandha, Sirajganj and Jamalpur districts will each receive 4,000 taka per month over the next three months (totaling $150) to stabilize their food supply and guarantee basic nutrition.

The money is being provided by the United Kingdom’s Department for International Development. DFID representative Paul Whittingham said that the UK has always stood beside the people of Bangladesh in times of need and was committed to working together with its partners to help alleviate the suffering caused by this disaster.

In consultation with the local administration and NGOs, the World Food Program has appointed a senior woman from each of the 8,500 participating households to receive the money. Experience in Bangladesh and elsewhere shows that when women receive assistance like this, it has not only empowered them, but also improves food security and nutrition for the entire family.

Christa Räder, WFP representative in Bangladesh, said that financial assistance is particularly important during prolonged disasters, when livelihoods are lost and work opportunities become scarce for months.

“Thanks to this cash, families can retain a measure of choice over the food they get, and manage to eat well,” she said.

Northwestern Bangladesh has experienced recurrent monsoon floods for much of the second half of 2016. Almost 4 million people have been affected as large areas became inundated, and more than 100 people died as a direct consequence of the floods, with 250,000 houses destroyed or damaged.

Experts warn that the current lean season could further reduce people’s food consumption. The WFP is part of a joint United Nations emergency operation in coordination with government and humanitarian partners, aimed at alleviating immediate needs and making communities more resilient to future floods.