Disasters Video story

‘Nowhere to go if the river grows again’

The constant threat of flooding and river erosion in Rangpur pushes families to their limits, even as they recover from previous disasters.

Located in northern Bangladesh, Rangpur district is situated at the confluence of five major rivers. It is known not only for its fishing culture, but also its vulnerability to extreme weather events, which are being exacerbated by climate changee.

For Mosammat Forijon Khatun, a 50-year-old resident of Gangachara, Rangpur, the fear and devastation caused by the floods of 2017 remain fresh in her mind. “I remember how our home was damaged. Our livestock was harmed, and our crop lands were destroyed,” she recalls. “One of our relatives lost his home completely – there was no trace left.”

Many families in the area live in precarious conditions. As Mosammat explained, if the water starts to rise and flood their homes, there are few options for moving elsewhere, especially for those who don’t own other land. “What is there to do? If I see the river is flooding and the water is reaching my house, I will have to stay here,” she said. “Even if the water reaches our waist, we will stay put and put the beds up high.”

Seeking shelter

Mosammat remembers being able to take shelter during the floods of 2017. When the water was almost reaching their ceilings, community leaders encouraged people to leave their belongings behind and seek shelter in schools and other available buildings. “We took our cattle, our children, and left everything else behind,” she says.

After the floods, access to the community was almost impossible, even for groups or organizations bringing relief to affected families. “We were almost three days without food, and people were afraid they would starve to death,” Mosammat said. “Then someone was able to bring food and cook for us. That food saved us and my children’s lives.”

It took about eight days for the water to recede and for Mosammat and her family to return home, only to find everything destroyed. “We had to find the strength and resources to rebuild our house slowly.”

The road to recovery

Rebuilding their homes and recovering their livelihoods is not easy, especially after disasters like this. The Bangladesh Red Crescent Society arrived in the community shortly after the floods to provide people with a lifeline to start from scratch. With a cash assistance of 4,500 Taka (about USD 40), many families were able to fix their homes, invest in new livelihoods, or even pay for urgent health expenses.

“I had a cataract in my right eye. I used part of the money to get surgery,” Mosammat said. “I used the rest of the money on my cattle and household.” In addition to the cash grant, the BDRCS also provided seeds like okra, eggplant, pumpkin, and bitter gourd for families to grow their own vegetable gardens.

Despite the ongoing risks, Mosammat is proud of how far her family has come after the floods. Now the owners of a few goats and a cow, they have found new ways to support themselves. “There will always be a risk of getting flooded,” she says. “But people like us who have nowhere to go, we pull together whatever we can and try to rebuild our homes somewhere safer.”

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This story was produced and drafted by Rabbe Islam,
– a talented and committed storyteller from Bangladesh Red Crescent

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