By Martin de Vries, a Canadian Red Cross aid worker 
 
Devastation in Kagoje Bara due to the floodEach year in Bangladesh, the water levels rise and fall with the changes in the seasons. Bengalis are used to floods, but this year was different. For many, the flood waters came with little notice, rose much higher than usual and stayed longer.
 
As part of the International Federation of the Red Cross' Field Assessment Coordination Team (FACT), I was able to see first-hand the devastation caused by this year’s flood in the northern district of Kurigram – one of the poorest in the country.
 
We took a river boat one hour up the Dharla River to a large island called Noyar. As we arrived, the devastation was clear – the pure force of the flood waters completely destroyed a large section of the main road, which connects 900 families who live on the island. People must now use a hastily made raft of oil barrels and bamboo to get around.

Kagoje Bara villagers crossing by raft after a major section of embankment was washed away during the flood.The destruction of the road also destroyed many small businesses. The owner of a local pharmacy informed me that he lost his store and all his stocks, which was worth roughly $3,500 CAD. He also lost his house, and since insurance is not available in this area, no one is covered for their losses.  
 
At nearby Kodomtola village, we talked with many community members whose houses had been washed away, along with livestock and basic household items. More than 300 houses have been completely destroyed and families are camped out on a nearby embankment – some in trees – to avoid the flood waters.
 
I also spoke with the wife of a mason, who has three young children and after the floods hit her neighbours helped her set up a tarpaulin shelter. Her husband is working in Dhaka in order to get enough money to rebuild their house, which could take months. She has succumbed to cooking only one meal a day in order to save money and some of her family members have become anaemic.
 
As a result of devastating floods in Bangladesh, boats are means of transportation to get to the island villagesFor these people, their ability to ‘bounce back’ has been exceeded by the sheer magnitude of this disaster. Bangladesh Red Crescent Society volunteers have provided tarpaulins and food, but four weeks later and in the worst affected areas people are still living under tarpaulin shelters that are held together with bamboo poles on bare, stripped land. They are living day-to-day, and greatly need our assistance.
 
As part of my work here, I am working with the Bangladesh Red Crescent and International Federation of the Red Cross on a detailed shelter plan of action. This plan will provide assistance to the most affected, which will include tarpaulins, tin sheeting and cash grants for rebuilding homes. It is also important to provide technical assistance on building back stronger so that these houses can withstand severe flooding in the future.
 
There is still a long way to go, but with the Red Cross Movement assistance, the most affected should soon be on the road to recovery.
 
This deployment was made possible by the generous support of the Government of Canada.