Monsoon floods: World Vision warns of spike in child malnutrition


International children’s charity, World Vision, is responding to deadly floods in Bangladesh that have devastated northern parts of the country.

Experts on the ground report that close to 8 million Bangladeshis have been affected by the worst monsoon rains in two decades. World Vision fears that the floods will lead to increased child malnutrition rates.

Jared Berends, Senior Director of Operations for World Vision Bangladesh said, “In some parts of Bangladesh up to 33% of children are malnourished. We are worried that families who have lost their homes and crops will run out of food, leading to even higher rates of malnutrition which will have serious consequences for child health and development.

The international community needs to act now if we are to avoid a spike in malnutrition for million.

- Jared Berends, Senior Director of Operations for World Vision Bangladesh

Berends said, “The scale of this disaster is hard to fathom, 144 people killed, 570,000 hectares of crops have been damaged, almost 10,000 animals have been killed; and over 9,000 kilometres of roads and over 450 bridges have been severely damaged.

“People are in need of food, safe drinking water and medicine in the worst-affected areas where access has been difficult for relief operations. They need support to rebuild their homes and re-plant their crops.”

World Vision ambassador Jerome Flynn says he is ‘changed forever’ after hearing heart-rending stories from war-scarred children in South Sudan.

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Jerome met traumatised children last month on a fact-finding trip organised by international charity World Vision. South Sudan is the world’s youngest country, gaining independence in 2011. The East African country has been convulsed by a five-year long civil war which has killed at least 400,000 people. Over 19,000 children have been conscripted into various armed groups.

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“Children told me about unimaginable horrors they had seen and experienced,” Jerome says. “Some children were kidnapped by armed groups and forced to fight and kill and watch other children get killed for not keeping up. Others fled torched homes and villages and sought refuge in camps for displaced people, with little food and no education. Many lost mothers, fathers, brothers and sisters and were forced to make choices no child should have to make, just to survive.

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"I met families torn apart because of the conflict and talked to parents who had sons and daughters snatched from them,” he continued. At times I found their stories of what they had to endure almost too painful to bear.

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“Yet I also saw hope in a country ripped apart by war. Dedicated World Vision aid workers are helping desperate families stitch their lives together amid the chaos. I was blown away by the resilience of the children, humbled by their spirit, and inspired by their determination to find happiness. 

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“I saw how war costs children their innocence but does not always destroy their childhoods. The bravery of the children I met will stay with me forever.”

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Full-blown conflict is likely to flare up again in South Sudan unless a national army of government and rebel forces is formed by May 12. More children and young people could then be forced into the bush to take up arms or flee the fighting. 

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Jerome says: “South Sudan’s latest peace deal is on a short fuse and the situation is desperate. Help is needed urgently to protect children from further violence. Sadly, there are thousands of children across the world who need support right now. Please give generously to help them.”

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Jerome’s trip forms part of World Vision’s Made for More appeal for funds to protect the world’s most vulnerable children.

 

Hundreds of thousands of children have been affected by the monsoon floods.

Child survivors have had the most horrific experiences. 13-year-old Sharmin was forced to wade through chest-high, insect-infested waters in order to get to higher ground.

Her parents have lost everything and her school has been destroyed. She now faces a very uncertain future.

- Berends

World Vision Bangladesh is supporting over 3,400 families - that is over 17,000 people - with a multi-purpose cash grant of £30.

Abdul Barek, World Vision Bangladesh’s Response Manager, said, “We are working with the government to identify some of the most vulnerable people who need this cash grant. It will help female-headed households and other vulnerable groups get back on their feet again. Some families will prioritise rebuilding their homes, others will spend the grant on food and education for themselves and their children.”

World Vision is also providing emergency relief to flood-affected India and Nepal.

Kunal Shah, World Vision India’s Disaster Response Manager, said: “The situation is quite grim. Our emergency assessments in 32 different villages shows that the floods have decimated people’s food stocks.

“Over 23 million Indian’s have been affected. More humanitarian aid is needed in addition to government relief efforts.”

World Vision aims to support 71,000 people. Over 24,000 have already received flood relief in Bihar, Mizoram and West Bengal.

Monsoon rains have also devastated parts of Nepal. Half a million people have been displaced,141 people have died and over 64,000 hectares of farmland has been destroyed. Many families are without food and face extreme hardship. World Vision has reached over 12,000 people with food and shelter. However, there is still a funding gap of nearly £777,000 for the early stage recovery work.

Angelina Theodora, Operations Director of World Vision International Nepal said “families have lost their crops and livelihoods. The estimated loss is around USD 81 million. Our flood response will focus on helping families re-plant late harvest crops, maintain wells so that people have access to clean water and to support children return to school. " 

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