Responding to the Flooding in South Asia

While so much of the heartbeat of Food for the Hungry lies in the sustainable approaches to development through the creation of durable solutions, there’s no doubting that unexpected events, such as natural disasters, catapult already vulnerable people into devastating situations.  

This is where the relief side of our organization is vital.

Flooding in Bangladesh. Photo courtesy of Tear Fund UK

It’s not OK that when an unforeseen disaster strikes, people living in extreme poverty are the ones who suffer most. They face unimaginable hardships, deprived of the resources they need to rebuild their communities. They often struggle for basic needs such as food and water. FH works with local governments, other non-government organizations (NGOs), and our exceptional emergency response team to bring restoration and hope to those affected by natural disasters or living amidst violence, war, famine and other crisis situations.

Currently, our team is responding to a heavy monsoon rain that is threatening the people of Nepal, Bangladesh, and India. This flood has already victimized more than 24 million people and claimed the lives of over 700 people all across South Asia.  

Flooding in Bangladesh. Photo courtesy of Tear Fund UK

“This massive set of storms have impacted a vast area of South Asia and is likely to become most serious humanitarian disaster in many years. Two million women, children, men and the especially vulnerable elderly have been forced from their homes already and the waters have not begun to recede in many areas.”
-Tim Danz, Asia Regional Director, Food for the Hungry

Emergency flooding is a unique kind of emergency. When there are large amounts of stagnant water present, many unseen things threaten the health and safety of the people who live in these regions. Families have lost their stored food and much of their earthly possessions such as kitchen supplies, bedding and so much more.  As a result, families are at an increased risk of contracting diseases such as malaria and Japanese encephalitis. The risk of a significant public health crisis from waterborne diseases such as cholera is also high.

The situation is particularly severe in Bangladesh, as flood levels have reached record highs. Over eight rivers are above the “danger level” and at least 56 people have been killed.

How FH is Helping

To combat this, Food for the Hungry is responding in the Bogra District with the distribution of household water filters made by Sawyer, water purification tablets, packets of oral rehydration salts and water collection buckets. We’re also working hard to distribute roofing and repair supplies for 500 households. These supplies include 4,000 sheets of metal roofing and 4,000 concrete pillars.

Because we consider that each community holds most of their own solutions in their hands, FH is also to mobilizing volunteers from both within the impacted community as well as from neighboring areas.  Together with these strong leaders and caring neighbors, our goals are to repair at least 500 homes, repair and improve access and safe storage of clean drinking water.

These situations, while dire and full of suffering, show me that we have the capacity to serve one another, to be neighbors to those in need. When partners from all over the world come together, both in deed and financial giving, we can empower those in unimaginable circumstances to overcome the storm before them and continue to live out who God has made them to be. I’m honored to witness such incredible work of restoration and I hope you’ll join me in serving the least of these.

CLICK HERE to join us in our emergency response to those affected by the flooding in South Asia.


Matthew Ellingson is Director of Response and International Partnerships, Relief & Humanitarian Affairs (RHA) at Food for the Hungry.