Friday, June 14, 2024

People cry for food in inundated south-west region

Thirty-five-year-old Monwara Begum had to steal vegetables from others farmland near his shelter house to feed her husband and the only son as her family has no other way to collect food.
Leaving his house that collapsed about three weeks ago in worst-affected Kanaidia Tala in Satkhira that became inundated because of flash flood, the family took shelter at Rathkhola Girls’ High School shelter house.
Because of heavy rainfall and accompanied inundation, 8,26,124 people of 1,95,562 families have been affected in 66 unions and two municipalities of six upazilas in the district where 528 kilometres of road stretches – 144 kilometres metalled road stretch and 384 kilometres of dirt track) – were destroyed and 1,018 kilometres of road stretches – 280 kilometres of metalled road and 738 kilometres of dirt track – were damaged, the district relief office said.
‘I could not but steal green vegetables from the farmland of others as we have no other way to meet our hunger,’ Monwara told New Age.
‘They [local government representatives and non-governmental organisations] provide us with rice that is almost less than a third of our demand and we often need to starve,’ she said.
She said that her family had received only seven kilograms of rice after he had taken shelter in the school and her husband, who pulls a rickshaw-van and also works as a day labourer, could not earn much as the areas had a very few road stretches above water rickshaw-vans could ply van.
There are also no other jobs available as the neighbouring villages are also still under water, she added.
Like the Monwara’s, 69 other families, including the Jalalpur union council member Sakhina Begum, are staying in the shelter house.
Another woman, Marufa Begum, aged about 40, wife of Minaj Uddin, who is staying in the same shelter house, said that almost all the families in the shelter house had to do it to feed the families. ‘If we can get more vegetables, we need to eat less rice.’
She said that they had often been scolded and even threatened by the owners of the farmland for stealing vegetables.
Union council member Sakhina said that they could provide the people with rice much less than the demand and added that the people living in the shelter house sometimes could ‘collect’ green vegetables from farmland owned by others.
Forty-year-old Abeda Begum, who is staying in another shelter house at the Government Kanaidia Primary School, said that they had to eat curry prepared with arum leaves ‘collected from other people’s farmland’ which are still available in areas less inundated. The shelter house has 34 families living in six rooms.
‘We often run away when we can see owners coming to see their farmland. Some of them even chase us out,’ she said She added that they had often been starving for want of food.
‘We sometimes get rice, although the amount is not adequate. But how can we eat them without curry,’ said Mir Ekram Ali, 60, who also stays in the shelter house.
The situation is worse for Rahima Khatun, a 55-year-old widow of Binerpota in the district headquarters, who had taken shelter on the Binirpota-Rajnagar WDB Road.
‘I have no opportunity to collect any vegetable from nearby villages as all all of them were under water. I received only three kilograms of rice in about three weeks,’ Rahima said.
She said that she had to keep fasting on Saturday by eating rice with red chilli and  broke fast with only water.
A number of people who had taken shelter at Kashimnagar and Ghoshnagar of Paikgachha in Khulna and at Rajendrapur, Khalilnagar, Nalta and Gonali at Tala in Satkhira on the Khulna-Paikgachha Road, at Kapasdanga, Ashanagar and Nagarghata at Tala and Binirpota in the district headquarters on the Khulna-Satkhira Highway, different spots on the Kanaidia-Jethua Road and on the Tala-Kumira Road had similar stories.
‘The situation is almost same in all the shelter houses and the people who have taken shelter in makeshift houses on highways, roads and high land as the relief supplies were not adequate to meet the demand,’ the Tala upazila counicl chairman, Ghosh Sanat Kumar, said.
The district relief office said that 5.08 kilometres of embankment was destroyed  and 82 kilometres of embankment was damaged in the district where worst-hit 27,816 families have taken shelter in 288 shelter houses.
The officials said that they had already distributed 1243 tonnes of rice in relief supplies, Tk 13,30,000 in cash and 410 tonnes of rice under the government’s vulnerable group feeding programme.
The Satkhira deputy commissioner, Md Abdus Samad, said that they had received 920 tonnes of rice to give to the affected people under the VGF programme. He said that they would provide each of the 1000 families in each affected union with 10 kilograms of rice.


Courtesy of New Age

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