Severe flooding has struck Bangladesh and northeast India, claiming over 150 lives and destroying farms and homes. Around two million people have been displaced as monsoon rains and the overflowing Brahmaputra river have swallowed up crops, livestock, grain reserves, and more. Around 2084 villages are cut off and marooned in water
In both countries, Caritas teams have visited the victims and started relief operations. In Bangladesh, Caritas has started feeding flood-affected families and plans to increase its food distribution programmes.
In India, Caritas is focusing on protecting flood victims’ health. Near marooned villages in the block of Soothea falling within the worst affected district of Sonitpur, Caritas India’s assessment team saw filthy water and animal carcasses floating.
“With no drinking water, people had no other option but to drink floodwater,” says Babita Alick, Team Leader for Disaster Management. Alick is concerned about the condition of families in relief camps. “With people and […]
Caritas Bangladesh colleagues Sheshanto Tripura, Jacob Tripura and Rintu Chakma were killed on 14 January in a bus accident while traveling on a steep mountain road in eastern Bangladesh, where Caritas runs a food security programme.
Thirteen other passengers died at the scene and the survivors are in serious condition. Another staff member, Gunga Chandra Tripura, survived the accident but is gravely ill in a local hospital.
“The entire Caritas community joins Caritas Bangladesh in mourning this loss. We send our condolences to the families and colleagues of Sheshanto Tripura, Jacob Tripura and Rintu Chakma. We also pray for the swift and complete recovery of Gunga Chandra Tripura,” says Michel Roy, Secretary General of Caritas Internationalis.
By Bishop Theotonius Gomes CSC, President of Caritas Bangladesh
Bishop Theotonius Gomes CSC is President of Caritas Bangladesh. He travelled to international climate negotiations in Poznan in 2008 and in Copenhagen in 2009 as part of Caritas efforts to get a fair deal for the poor.
In Bangladesh, food is the basic daily concern. There is much unjust poverty. There is a lack of “daily bread” for many. The smallest available food is treated with great care; and it brings joy to the poor.
The success of any government, aid agency, society or family lies in providing food security. Bangladesh has achieved three times higher food production over the last four decades by maximizing new technology. But progress is under threat as a result of rising sea levels and extreme or unusual weather patterns.
According to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, Bangladesh will lose the largest amount of cultivated land globally due […]
By Bishop Theotonius Gomes CSC, President of Caritas Bangladesh
One essential aspect of the mystery of the human person is its union of the earthly body and the heavenly soul, a union on earth destined for eternity.
On earth, the body has to be a true home for the eternal spirit; in eternity the soul has to be home of the risen body.
On earth, food assists the body in its essential function to keep “body and soul together” towards the fulfillment of that mystery of the human person.
Thus ‘food security’ is hardly a mere earthly affair, it has eternal overtures.
The Lord’s Prayer is no common petition. It is the prayer for the coming of the Kingdom of God. In it we pray for the “daily bread”, the everyday food of the poor leading to the eternal bread of tomorrow for all.
Scripture refers to food as the basic earthly need:
At creation, no […]
A strong earthquake shook areas of India, Nepal and Bangladesh on Sunday night, 18 September. The epicentre of the 6.8-magnitude quake is in Sikkim, India, an area not far from the border with Nepal.
Caritas India is in touch with religious sisters in the city of Gangtok, the capital of Sikkim, and with a priest in Darjeeling, also in the region. They report that large cracks have developed in the buildings and a few old buildings have collapsed in Gangtok. In Gangtok proper, they say that government institutions and businesses are open, while schools are closed. News reports say that rescue workers are pulling victims or survivors from quake-struck buildings in Gangtok.
Roads in the areas of Gangtok and Darjeeling are closed due to landslides and heavy rains, say Caritas contacts in the region. Most Catholic churches, schools and convents in the region are safe, but the Holy Cross Montessori School was […]
Monsoon rains in Bangladesh have driven thousands of people from their homes [View our photo gallery]. Caritas Bangladesh is providing food to 70,000 people as well as shelter materials and sanitation. Caritas also plans to run cash- for-work programmes for communities to help repair the damage. We asked them about relief efforts so far.
What is the situation in the flood-affected areas?
Poor families dependent on day labour, share cropping, begging and rickshaws have lost their livelihoods. In Khulna in the south, people are still living in the highlands or in schools or they are migrating in search of work. Those who remain catch fish, do odd jobs for low wages, sell cows or their belongings or borrow money at high interest rates. Food, shelter, clothing and medical needs are being met by the government and aid agencies. Many houses are still standing, and people will be able to return in […]
Caritas is appealing for 414,227 euro (US $596,569) to help Bangladeshi families stranded by severe floods.
Incessant monsoon rains since late July 2011 have inundated 13 of Bangladesh’s 64 districts. The floods have driven thousands of people from their homes to shelters in nearby schools or on higher ground. The continuous rain, combined with inadequate drainage systems in these areas, have aggravated the situation.
“For over a week, families have been living in overcrowded flood shelters and surviving with minimum or no food or sanitation facilities,” says Dr. Benedict Alo D’Rozario, Executive Director of Caritas Bangladesh. “They are in urgent need of food to prevent starvation, plastic sheets for shelter, and toilets to avoid health hazards like water-borne diseases.”
Working in the regions of Khulna and Mymensingh, Caritas Bangladesh plans to give rice, cooking oil, and other food to 14,322 families. Caritas will also distribute plastic sheeting to over 6,000 households and […]
By Caritas Bangladesh staff
Fishing for crabs in the vast mangrove forest of the Sundarbans in Bangladesh is a dangerous way to make a living. A local poem says you always have a ‘shiver of fear’ as you travel the complex network of waterways, mudflats and small islands because the Royal Bengal Tiger does not work to a ‘timetable’.
The Sundarbans, or “beautiful jungle”, is the single largest swathe of mangroves in the world. The coastal mangroves and seasonally-flooded fresh water inland swamp covers 10,000 sq.km. of the Bay of Bengal, half of which are in Bangladesh. They are one of the wonders of nature, home to a diverse eco-system of flora and fauna. They are a source of livelihood for the local people, who catch fish, collect wood, crabs, tiny shrimps and honey there.
In the dark forest and canals, however, tigers find it easy to stalk and attack men and […]
Migrants can call their families for free on arrival through Caritas and its partner OKUP. Credits: OKUP
Caritas Bangladesh and its partner organisation OKUP are providing assistance to Bangladeshi migrant workers fleeing the social unrests in Libya on their arrival at Dhaka airport. Returnees are given some money, food and transport facilities to reach bus terminals or railway stations. While Caritas asked about his needs, 32-year-old construction worker Salim told them how he witnessed the fighting.
“When I left the capital Tripoli the situation was very bad. I saw a lot of demonstrations and fighting. The protesters against Libyan President Qaddafi were carrying rifles and machine guns and the repression from the army was very tough. I saw people get beaten and we could hear shots.
“I didn’t feel safe there anymore, the situation was very dangerous. As a foreigner, you had to be careful not to be drawn into the unrest. […]
Caritas Bangladesh builds shelters that offer protection when cyclones hit. They work with villagers to make sure that everyone knows about evacuation plans and that there is enough food to last through the storms.
Tanjibul Hussain Sujon is a community volunteer in Bangladesh. He said, “There is a group of us who keep in touch by radio.We receive early warning signals when a disaster happens and organise evacuations.”
Where there are no cyclone shelters, Caritas helps to adapt existing buildings, such as schools, so that they can provide a safe refuge during extreme weather.
In remote Mothurapur in Bangladesh’s vast Sundarbans forest, Caritas began work on improvements to the village school in July 2008, raising the level of the floors and cementing them, strengthening pillars, building water-sealed latrines, repairing roofs and fences and setting up a rainwater harvesting tank for drinking water.When Cyclone Aila hit in May 2009, 19 families along with […]
Caritas Luxembourg choose twenty ordinary people to see for themselves the impact of climate change on some of the world’s poorest communities. Members of the “180 Degrees Panel” represented a cross section of the population. Most knew nothing about greenhouse gas emissions, global warming and its impact. Only few of them had ever been to a developing country before.
Caritas took them to Bangladesh. When the panellists saw the situation, many were confused at first as to where the issues of environmental change begin and those of poverty end? Even after returning to Luxembourg, some of the panellists were left wondering why organizations such as Caritas cared about increasing numbers of cyclones if people are so obviously confronted with much more urgent needs.
Caritas cares because poor communities are suffering comparatively harder from the effects of climate change than richer countries. This became increasingly clear to the panellists. Firstly, briefings by […]
The people of Mothurapur village in Bangladesh’s vast Sundarnbans forest depend on the mangroves for their livelihoods and for food. The communities there are poor and isolated.
Children did not go to school, but instead worked in the forests collecting wood and honey. That was until Caritas Bangladesh built the Mothurapur Environment School in 2002. As well as providing a rounded education, the teachers included environment and climate change issues in the syllabus in addition to general curriculum. That’s why community people have named the school as ‘Environment School’.
From July 2008, Caritas raised up school floors, cemented floors, set up water-sealed latrines, strengthened its pillars, repaired roofs and fences and set up rainwater harvesting tank for drinking water. When cyclone Alia hit, the school was not affected by the tidal surge due to its renovations. A total of 19 families along with their children, livestock’s and assets had taken shelter […]