Floods cause devastation in India, Nepal and Bangladesh

Seasonal monsoon rains regularly cause floods and loss of life in South Asia, but the floods that have swept north western India, Nepal and Bangladesh this year are exceptionally devastating. At the time of writing the UN OCHA are reporting that 41 million have been affected by the floods, with over 900 killed. Other reports from officials are that the death toll is already over a thousand. This could increase as rains continue in some flood-affected areas and flood waters move south.

Villagers are taken to a relief camp in Assam, India

The scale is vast: in Bangladesh alone, a third of the land has been inundated in the worst floods for 100 years. The loss of crops as well as homes threatens longer term food supplies.

Tens of thousands of houses, as well as schools and hospitals, have been destroyed and displaced people in all the nations affected are in urgent need of life-saving support. Governments and aid agencies are struggling to provide shelter, food and clean water, while fearing outbreaks of diseases such as cholera and dysentery which frequently follow floods. Contaminated water and limited shelter and facilities put young children particularly at risk.

Families have lost everything. “With the floods washing away everything … there is not even a trace of our small thatched hut,” said Lakshmi Das, a mother of three, living in Kaliabor, Assam, reported in the Guardian. “We do not even have a second pair of clothes to wear. The government is not providing any aid.”

 

Men wade through flooded land in Bangladesh (above) while the aerial picture below shows flooding in Nepal.

Climate change is widely acknowledged to 'load the dice' in favour of more extreme rainfall events, since warmer air can hold more moisture. The graph below shows record-breaking rainfall events, consistent with rising temperatures (from here, original research summary here).

In the long term, a move away from fossil fuels is the only solution. If you would like to donate today to help those affected, Save the Children have an emergency appeal.

Families find temporary shelter in India