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Brahmaputra river basin, north-western Bangladesh. (Districts of Kurigram, Gaibandha, Bogra, Sirajganj and Jamalpur).

Cause: River and monsoon flooding.

2. Above-normal monsoon rainfall was experienced in the north-eastern Indian states of Assam and Meghalaya, and Sub-Himalayan West Bengal and Sikkim during the period from 13th to 26th August 2014. This fed an abnormally large volume of water into the Brahmaputra, Meghna and Ganges rivers, which has since been working its way downstream through a vast river network in Bangladesh en route to the Bay of Bengal.

3. In the meantime, northern Bangladesh also experienced similar above-normal rainfall during the same period. This exacerbated the already dramatic upward trend in river levels in northern Bangladesh - especially along the Brahmaputra iver basin, in the north-west of the country - causing rivers to burst their banks at multiple locations and flooding surrounding areas. This has temporarily displaced thousands of households onto higher ground, as well as causing widespread and severe damage to property and livelihoods. (Draft Joint Needs Assessment, “Flooding in North-Western Bangladesh”, Humanitarian Coordination Task Team, August 31st 2014).

4. Encouragingly, rainfall levels have declined significantly in the north-eastern Indian states of Assam and Meghalaya, and Sub-Himalayan West Bengal and Sikkim, as well as further downstream in Bangladesh, since 27th August. As a result, river levels in northern Bangladesh are now on a downward trend. With Format for IR-EMOP Information Note 2 no further above-normal rainfall forecast for the next 7 days - either upstream in India, or downstream in Bangladesh - it is likely that rivers in Bangladesh will return to normal levels and that the floodwater that has accumulated at many locations in the north-west since mid-August 2014 will recede.

5. Nevertheless, some parts of north-western Bangladesh remain inundated. In such areas, households are stranded on higher ground and in shelters and are unable to meet their food and nutritional needs. Meanwhile in those areas where the floodwater has now receded and where households are returning home, many are discovering that their food stocks, properties and/or livelihoods have been destroyed. (Draft Joint Needs Assessment, “Flooding in North-Western Bangladesh”, Humanitarian Coordination Task Team, August 31st 2014).

Effects: Loss of property; disruption of livelihoods; displacement; food insecurity.

6. In response to reports of severe river flooding in many densely-populated parts of northern Bangladesh, the Humanitarian Coordination Task Team (HCTT) on 19 August 2014 activated a Phase 1 Joint Needs Assessment (JNA) collecting union-level (lowest administrative and local government level) Government compiled data from nine districts of northern Bangladesh 1) Lalmonirhat; 2) Nilphamari; 3) Kurigram; 4) Rangpur; 5) Gaibandha; 6) Bogra; 7) Sirajgonj; 8) Jamalpur and; 9) Sherpur. Data collection for the JNA was carried out in a coordinated manner by a number of humanitarian agencies - including the World Food Programme (WFP) - during the period 25-28 August 2014, and draft findings were circulated among HCTT and cluster members on 31 August 2014.

7. Acknowledging that the impact of the flooding has varied significantly from location to location and that the situation remains very dynamic, the Draft JNAhas nonetheless been able to report the following major findings: There has been widespread damage to property, with 71,092 houses believed to have been destroyed and/or damaged. All major livelihoods appear to have been affected, including agriculture (mainly rice), livestock rearing and fishing. Thousands of households have been temporarily displaced onto higher ground and some of them have been able to take refuge in shelters such as schools and community centres. And there has been severe and moderate damage to food stocks in a number of locations, which is likely to have immediate and severe implications on food security. (Draft Joint Needs Assessment, “Flooding in North-Western Bangladesh”, Humanitarian Coordination Task Team, August 31st 2014). Total numbers affected and in need of emergency food aid:

8. The Draft JNA reports that, in the nine districts surveyed, around a third of the population overall - equivalent to an estimated 1,868,000 people - have been affected by the river and monsoon flooding. 

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Country at a glance 2015
Planned Beneficiaries0
Beneficiary needs (mt)0
Beneficiary needs ($US)77,063,946
Threats to food security
  • Climate change
  • Floods 
  • Natural disasters 
  • High food prices