Thousands of flood-affected people in three upazilas of Bogura district – Sariakandi, Sonatola and Dhunat – who took shelter on dikes, are facing trouble due to lack of safe drinking water and sanitation.
According to the information obtained from the three upazila administrations of Bogura, the government has provided 40 toilets for 68,000 flood-affected people. That means, one toilet has been provided for every 1,700 people.
The Sariakandi upazila administration said this year 50,000 people in Sariakandi were marooned in the floods. They have taken shelter under the open sky or in tents.
Additionally, 18,500 people in Sonatola upazila were flooded. They have also taken shelter on embankments or higher ground, Sonatola upazila administration said.
Although flood water entered 622 houses in Dhunat upazila, now the water has receded, said Upazila Nirbahi Officer Sanjay Kumar Mahanta.
Bogura public health engineering department, who looks after the health of flood-affected people, said 39 tubewells and 40 toilets have been provided for 68,000 flood-affected people in three upazilas.
Additionally, 13,000 water purification tablets have been given, it added.
Forty families who took shelter on the embankment in Chandanbaisha Union of Sariakandi did not get the tube wells provided by the government, residents said.
Further, no toilets have been allocated for the 40 families who took shelter in tents on the dike. Helpless, they have built their own toilets out of bamboo poles and cloth, they added.
On a visit to the area, this correspondent saw temporary toilets have been constructed on both sides of the dam in a row. Excrement now flows directly into the flood waters. Also, the stench of the stool is spreading in the air.
Meanwhile, children are bathing in the floodwaters under the toilets. Their reared chickens and goats are grazing next to these toilets.
There is also an acute shortage of drinking water in the area.
Dudu Sheikh, who took shelter on the embankment, from Ghughumari, said even if they can make the toilets themselves, pure drinking water is nowhere nearby. He collects drinking water from a house one kilometer away.
Among the flood-affected people, women are facing problems because of the toilet crisis.
Banecha Begum, who took shelter on the Rahdah embankment, said that every year the government provides temporary toilets. "Not getting them this year we [women] cannot defecate on time – it is a big problem," she said.
Three new tube wells and four toilets were found about four kilometers around the embankment from Rahdah ghat. Those are installed at Ghughumari Madhyapara, North Ghughumari area and at one place near Kutubpur Bazar. However, thousands of people have taken shelter on the dam.
Khorshed Alam, a farmer who took shelter there, said about half a kilometer south of his house there is a tube well and a toilet provided by the government.
Khorshed, Helal Sarkar, Rahela Begum, and some others, asked how it was possible for so many people to use one toilet.
Abul Kalam Azad, executive engineer of the prison's public health engineering department, said emergency toilets or tube wells are provided based on demand.
''The locals contact us when they need us. Accordingly, we set up toilets or tube wells there," he said.