Following the recent flooding in Bangladesh, at least 32 people have been killed and millions forced to flee their homes. But money is not available to help.
After wealthy governments diverted aid funds to the Covid-19 crisis in Ukraine and the war in Ukraine, aid agencies are having difficulty responding to the devastating flooding in Bangladesh and India.
On Saturday, heavy rains began in northern Bangladesh (north-east India) and forced millions of people to flee their homes.
Residents and aid agencies were taken by surprise by the intensity of the rain. “The flood caught us off guard because the extent was enormous,” Water Aid’s Bangladesh director Hossain Adib told Climate Home News.
“This is monsoon season but what climate change has resulted in is more than normal rainfall,” added Sudipto Mukerjee, Bangladesh representative at the UN Development Programme (UNDP).
Climate Home was informed by Adib and Mukerjee that funds were being diverted from their budgets due to the Covid pandemic as well as the war in Ukraine.
UNDP’s disaster response and recovery facility, whose biggest funders are the UN, Sweden and Canada, had a budget of $11m in 2020. This dropped to $7.5m by 2021 and $6.8m by 2022.
The funds are becoming increasingly scarce due to their shrinking resources. They were used to provide Covid-19 with protective equipment and to respond to the Rohingya refugee crises as well as to weather-related catastrophes.
With limited cash, mobile communications disrupted and the airport’s runway flooded, the Bangladeshi government and aid agencies are struggling to respond quickly to the emergency. Local community groups, including Fridays for Future young climate activists, have stepped up to fill the gap.
Siyam Afzal, an activist from YouthNet for Climate Justice, said that he launched an online appeal with other youth activists and used the money for food, medicine, and water to help people living in overcrowded shelters. The intensity of the floods has left even designated ‘flood shelters’ flooded, meaning only a few are safe for people to us.
Hospitals are also flooding, making it more difficult for injured people find medical care. Afzal met a child whose injured leg had been splinted using a piece bamboo and some plastic yarn. “He was crying badly,” Afzal said.
The UN climate talks took place in Bonn (Germany) last week. Developed countries claimed that the UN humanitarian aid system was not sufficient to address climate disasters.
They demanded a facility be established that would source funds from wealthy countries to aid poorer countries in responding to climate disasters, which they played a disproportionately minor role in causing.
The development countries tried to get the issue onto the formal agenda of the talks, but were stopped by the opposition of the rich nations.
Climate campaigners in Bangladesh and humanitarian workers called on developed countries to provide damage and loss finance in the wake of the floods. Mukerjee, UNDP, stated that Bangladesh has a strong track record in implementing measures that have reduced flood deaths. However, communities continue to suffer from infrastructure damage, including schools, roads, and houses.
“If there is a direct link between a disaster and climate change…there is a need for the global community to be able to help countries like Bangladesh deal with the consequences of climate change,” he said.
Source: Climate Change News