GENEVA - The International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies reports more than 700 people have died and more than 24 million people in Nepal, Bangladesh and India have been affected by the worst flooding to hit South Asia in decades.
The International Red Cross Federation reports nearly one-third of Nepal and Bangladesh are flooded, as is one half of the state of Bihar in India. It says millions of people are now homeless.
While the flooding was triggered by a monsoon, the Red Cross under-secretary general for programs and operations, Jagan Chapagain, attributes much of this disaster to the lack of proper water management among the three seriously affected countries.
“You have seen the major damage in infrastructures in Nepal. Many bridges have been washed away," he said. "The houses have been damaged, the electricity has been cut off in many parts of Nepal and India. Now in Bangladesh, it continues. One of other major worries we have is the damage on the crops.”
Chapagain says one-third of the rice crop in southern Nepal has been wiped out and serious damage has been done to the rice planted in Bangladesh and Bihar. He says the real effect of this disaster will be felt in the coming months.
Chapagain warns urgent action is needed to prevent deadly diseases from spreading and hunger from taking root in South Asia. He says the floodwaters are a breeding ground for diseases, such as diarrhea and malaria and that dengue fever and Japanese encephalitis also are on the rise.
He says providing shelter, clean water, sanitation and improved hygiene are critical to stopping the spread of these deadly diseases.