As part of its ongoing collaboration with the Ministry of Disaster Management and Relief and the United Nations, the US government is going to provide assistance to vulnerable families in flooded parts of northern Bangladesh.
US Ambassador to Bangladesh Earl Miller announced that through the US Agency for International Development (USAID), assistance will be offered to the most vulnerable people who have lost their homes or livelihoods in two unions of the Gaibandha and Kurigram districts in Rangpur Division.
The assistance includes multipurpose cash grants to those eligible, reads a press release issued on Friday.
Additionally, these families will receive an emergency water, sanitation and hygiene support package, which is critical to avoiding diseases and is especially important to prevent the spread of Covid-19.
Recipients will be able to use the cash grants for purchasing essential items to meet their immediate needs, which also helps support the local economy during this disaster, the press release adds.
"Immediate help during a flood of this magnitude is critical. As we have been for decades, the US government is committed to standing with the people of Bangladesh and working together with the government to help those in need when natural disasters strike," said Ambassador Miller.
The areas to be assisted are Bamandanga union in Nageshwari upazila, Kurigram District and Fazlupur union in Fulchari upazila, Gaibandha district. These two areas are among the unions where floods first affected the communities.
Over the past few years, several USAID programs have worked to enhance disaster preparedness in households and communities to help people become more resilient.
USAID's SHOUHARDO III project with CARE Bangladesh has helped vulnerable families in northeastern Bangladesh – whose homes were flooded in 2019 – by constructing raised earthen platforms, called plinths, to lift 1,744 homes above flood levels, reads the press release.
These raised homes keep the families safe, along with their livestock and gardens. Now, many of the homeowners living on the plinths have taken in neighbors whose houses were flooded.
Additionally, USAID, in coordination with the US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and World Meteorological Organization, is training Bangladeshi disaster management professionals on the South Asia Flash Flood Guidance System.
The capacity-building program integrates various flash flood guidance into operational forecasts that local disaster management officials can use to provide early warnings to individuals in flood-prone areas. Early flood warnings, when converted to SMS bulletins, help families prepare to move people, livestock, supplies, and livelihoods to higher ground, reads the statement.
USAID's SHOUHARDO III project trains the local disaster management committees and volunteers to ensure they utilize the early warning systems and help their communities prepare for flooding.
USAID also supports capacity-building activities for disaster management specialists and first responders through the Programme for Enhancement of Emergency Response (PEER), a programme active throughout the South Asia region since 1998.
Training provided for volunteers through the program includes basic life support and search-and-rescue, including swift water rescues. USAID also supports US Forest Service training for Bangladeshi disaster management professionals in the Incident Command System (ICS), a standardised, multi-hazard response management system for emergency responders.
The US government, through USAID alone, has provided more than $7 billion in development assistance to Bangladesh since 1971.
In 2019, USAID provided over $200 million to improve the lives of people in Bangladesh through programs that expand food security and economic opportunity, improve health and education, promote democratic institutions and practices, protect the environment, and increase resilience to climate change, adds the statement.