With the monsoon in Bangladesh, Rohingya refugee camps in Cox's Bazar have emerged as a dengue hotspot, with the mosquito-borne disease continuing to spread among the stateless refugees.
"A total of 1,066 dengue cases were reported in highly cramped refugee camps in Cox's Bazar up to May 23 this year, while the case tally was only 426 among the local community there," Dr Nazmul Islam, Director of Disease Control and Line of the Directorate General of Health Services (DGHS), said.
Like many other women in Bangladesh's salinity-prone coastal region, Lalita Roy had to travel a long distance every day to collect drinking water as there was no fresh water source nearby her locality.
Ziaur Rahman, a farmer of Pakuar Char under Sariakandi Upazila in Bogura, cultivated jute on a newly emerged river island (char) in the Brahmaputra River, but this year’s flood washed away his crop.
After losing everything in the recent devastating flood that swept the northeastern districts in Bangladesh, pregnant mother Joynaba Akter, her three children and her husband took refuge in a shelter centre at Gowainghat in Sylhet.
When the Bangladesh Forest Department felled Basanti Rema’s banana orchard, Rema, a Garo indigenous forest-dweller of Madhupur Forest, felt she was living a nightmare.
Rema, from Pegmari village in Madhupur, Tangail district, had cultivated the banana plants on half an acre in the Madhupur Forest. But the Forest Department claimed that the land on which the bananas were cultivated belonged to the department.
Rani Akter, a mother of five, usually works as a domestic helper in Dhaka’s Zikatola area. When the coronavirus pandemic broke out in Bangladesh last March, her employers asked her not to come to their homes for fear of infection.
“I lost my work in three houses one after the other, which became a nightmare for me. My rich employers did not allow me in their homes as they thought that I might carry the invisible virus,” Akter told IPS.
Kajol Miah is a rice farmer from the Bangladesh side of the Meghna River Basin. And in towns on the Indian side of the river basin, Bangladeshi rice is in great demand.
Although learning centres in Cox’s Bazar Kutupalong Refugee Camp are closed because of the COVID-19 pandemic, Mariom Akhter, a Rohingya mother of four, is grateful not only for the schooling her children have had but the training sessions she as a parent was able to attend. The skills she learnt has helped her assist her children with their education at home in a crisis.
It’s something she’s likely needed to help her children with over the last few weeks after a Mar. 22 fire spread through the camp, destroying the shelters of at least 45,000 people as well as important infrastructure, including hospitals, learning centres, aid distribution points and a registration centre. At least 15 people were reported dead and 400 missing.
Last week more than 396 starving Rohingyas were rescued off the coast of Bangladesh after being at sea for two months. At least 32 had died on the boat after it failed to reached Malaysia. While it was unclear at the time of the breaking news whether the refugees were from Myanmar, where they are originally from, or Bangladesh — where more than a million Rohingya Muslims live as refugees after fleeing violence in Myanmar in 2017 — the attempt to reach Malaysia is not a new one.
Nine-year-old Mohammad Rafique used to collect vegetables from Kutupalong Bazaar and sell them at a market inside Kutupalong camp, a camp of some 600,000 Rohingyas, in Bangladesh’s Cox’s Bazar.
When Feroza Begum was first diagnosed with leprosy in 2006, it felt as though she had been struck by a thunderbolt due to the deep-seated prejudice in her society that the disease is a curse from Allah (God).
Chairman of The Nippon Foundation, Yohei Sasakawa, has assured Bangladesh of continuing support for the Zero Leprosy Initiative announced by the country's Prime Minister, Sheikh Hasina, aimed at eliminating leprosy by 2030.
In the light of limited access to education for displaced Rohingya children, the Nippon Foundation has announced US$ 2 million support to BRAC to launch a project to ensure educational facilities to both Rohingya and local community children.
Leprosy is not a curse but should be detected and treated early, Bangladeshi Prime Minister, Sheikh Hasina, has told delegates at a gathering in her country's capital to discuss the elimination of the disease.
Despite having remarkable success in leprosy control in the last decades, the Bangladesh government is now moving forward with a vision to build a leprosy- free country.
It was almost a decade ago when Ruma Begum and her family left their home in Bangladesh’s coastal Tazumuddin upazila or sub-district and travelled some 50 km away to start a new life. They had been driven out of their home by an extreme and changing climate that has continued to ravage the district of Bhola.
Israfil Boyati lives along the shoreline of the Bay of Bengal. In the past he used to catch fish in the canals and rivers of Bangladesh’s Sundarbans mangrove forest — one of the world’s largest and habitat to many endangered species, including the Bengal tigers and freshwater dolphins.
After his father passed away two years ago, the burden of caring for a six-member family rested on the shoulders of the now 19-year-old Farhad Hossain. He had no clue how he would support his family and pay for the education of his four younger siblings.
Experts and policymakers here say regional cooperation is a must to resolve long-standing water problems in South Asian countries like Bangladesh, Bhutan, China, India and Nepal, and to harness the full value of water.
In the wake of recent water-related disasters in Bangladesh, including water-logging and floods that displaced thousands of families, a high-level consultation in the capital Dhaka on valuing water will look at ways to optimize water use and solutions to water-related problems facing South Asia.
Like many other fast-growing megacities, the Bangladeshi capital of Dhaka faces severe water and sanitation problems, chiefly the annual flooding during monsoon season due to unplanned urbanisation, destruction of wetlands and poor city governance.