Nepal, India and Bangladesh crippled by monsoon flooding

KATHMANDU: Lekhnath Khatri lives in Jhapa, a village in south-eastern Nepal with an unfortunate characteristic: It’s one of the towns in the country worst affected by this year’s monsoon.
A farmer, he says the floodwaters began to rise on August 12, around midnight. “As soon as I learned about the floods, I went around telling my neighbours,” Khatri said. “They began to rush towards higher ground. Most took shelter in a local school. More than 200 children, women and old people spent two days without food because everything they had was inundated with floodwaters.”
The community finally received some relief from local aid organisations, but Khatri said they still hadn’t gotten help from the government, and are struggling to return to their lives.
“The floods damaged our roads. So that’s the main problem we have been facing now,” Khatri said. The farmer says he also lost all of his rice crops, and his home was destroyed.
“We lost whatever we had to the floods. Our thatched roof home has become uninhabitable. There’s mud everywhere inside it; waters damaged our clothes and beddings. Our children have been unable to go to school because roads have been washed away in floods,” Khatri said.
Monsoon season is part of life from June to September in South Asia. But this summer, the heavy rains have claimed more than 1,700 lives, in the worst flooding the region. Save the Children said on Thursday in a press release that at least 18,000 schools have been damaged or destroyed by the flooding throughout South Asia.
“We know that the longer children are out of school following a disaster like this, the less likely it is that they’ll ever return,” Save the Children’s General Manager in India’s Bihar state, Rafay Hussain, said. “That’s why it’s so important that education is properly funded in this response, to get children back to the classroom as soon as it’s safe to do so and to safeguard their futures.”
The north-eastern state of Bihar is the worst affected part of India. According to official figures, 514 people have died there. West India also experienced severe weather: the metropolis Mumbai was forced to a standstill on Tuesday due to flooding.
Meanwhile, in Bangladesh, Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina visited the flood-hit districts twice in the past few weeks, assuring them of every possible support her government can manage.
Tayebur Rahman, a farmer, said water levels have decreased remarkably, but that only means the destruction is now visible. — dpa