Monsoon season has just finished in Bangladesh and has left many people homeless. It was the most prolonged monsoon flooding in decades. Despite the UN lauding its new initiatives for early intervention aimed at preparing communities for crises, by mid-July 550 people had been killed and 9.6 million affected by the disaster. Bangladesh’s ministry of disaster management and relief has estimated that a third of the country was already underwater by mid-July, with more rain expected up to mid-October.

Rezaul Karim Chowdhury, executive director of the Bangladeshi NGO Coast, said the country was far more prepared for flooding than in the past, but that populations in some flooded areas ended up in dire need because of a combination of existing localised and national crises (Covid-19). He said people’s incomes had already been hit by the government’s closure of 25 state-owned mills, mostly in the northern areas that have been flooded, and by the Covid-19 pandemic. Almost a third of the population has dropped under the poverty line. This has a huge impact on food security and purchasing power.

The UN said it had been trying to pre-empt damage to livelihoods by predicting where support needed to be sent ahead of time, using data and forecasting analytics. That had allowed the release of relief worth £4m from its reserve fund for humanitarian emergencies to counter severe flooding over the past few weeks in the form of cash, hygiene and health kits, and equipment to protect farmer’s materials from water damage.

Over 2 million children have been affected by these floods and are now either living on the streets or in orphanages as their parents can’t afford to take care of them anymore. This means that orphanages and children’s refuges are struggling to support this huge number of children and need more funds to be able to function. This means we need your help more than ever, so please donate now. Even a small donation goes a long way.

The Lancet has recently reported the decision by the Bangladesh Government to charge patients between 200 taka (£1.80) and 500 taka (£4.50) for Covid-19 tests. The reasoning given was to ‘avoid unnecessary tests’.

This decision has understandably affected the poorest and most vulnerable most of all.

Since imposing a charge, rates of testing have fallen to just 0.06 tests per 1000 people during August, with most tests occurring in the capital, Dhaka. In a country of 168 million people, just 15,000 tests are being performed per day. This compares to testing in the UK of around 250,000 per day – a rate of 3.6 per 1000 people.

Bangladesh has now officially recorded around 275,000 confirmed cases of Covid-19 and 3,600 deaths but, with the testing rates so low, these figures can only scratch the surface of the actual position.

The country is also suffering from a lack of trust in the testing system with many scam testers operating now that there is a charge. In mid-July a hospital owner was arrested for issuing thousands of fake test results. Tests are also not reliable with many results not being provided for weeks and some not at all.

The Lancet reports that graveyards are reporting many times the official death rates and with the monsoon and dengue seasons having now arrived, the situation is only going to get worse. It is the poorest once again who are suffering, with Covid-19 believed to be rife in slums and other crowded urban areas.

Even if testing were increased 20 fold and were to be free again, the problem for Bangladesh moves to treatment. Bangladesh has one of the lowest investment in healthcare globally, with just 0.69% of GDP spent. Much of healthcare remains private which once again benefits the rich but not the vast majority of the population.

When the economic effects of the pandemic are added to the pot, it is clear that Bangladesh is in a very perilous position and the true cost to such a poor nation will be difficult to monitor and go largely unrecorded whilst the world battles this deadly disease.

How is the Orphan Trust helping? Well although it is a big problem, we are doing what we can by supporting projects such as orphanages or schools for slum children run by Jaago. We have also distributed food to children living on the streets and aim to provide more food distributions with your help.

To donate, please click here.

There are over 600,000 children living on the streets in Bangladesh. Around 75% of them are in Dhaka. COVID 19 has left them with very few choices. Some children have returned home to avoid the virus, whilst some don’t have a home to return to. Even at home, the children aren’t completely safe, as some still have to wander around the streets, gathering supplies to help their family make enough money to survive. This is why orphanages are needed. They shelter children from exploitation by gangs, violence, and abuse. The older children can help the younger children learn, and everyone can help keep up each other’s morale. Some people do not believe in orphanages. They believe children belong in a safe loving home. But what is that is not an option? Some children do not live in a safe home, they do not have parents that want them or can afford them or keep them safe. Street children don’t have a proper childhood. At home, they were working or looking after siblings, and out on the streets they have to fight for their survival, but in an orphanage, children can be children. They can have a proper childhood where they don’t have too many responsibilities or pressure. They can play and have fun and be around other children just like them. They are protected. This is why we need orphanages.

In the UK, we are privileged enough to have replaced orphanages with foster homes. Unfortunately, in developing countries such as Bangladesh, isn’t it better to be alive, with food and shelter in an orphanage than risking their lives on the streets?



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