UN releases Bangladesh flood aid in record time

The UN has released $5.2 million in emergency funds in record time to fight flooding in Bangladesh.

“In an innovative approach to dealing with severe flooding in Bangladesh, the UN is taking action before disaster hits,” Xinhua news agency quoted Stephane Dujarric, spokesman for UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres, as saying on Wednesday.

“The funds were made available within four hours of a warning that floods could reach critical levels in the coming days.”

Release of the relief money from the Central Emergency Relief Fund (CERF) was the fastest response in UN history, Dujarric told a virtual press briefing.

In an innovative approach to dealing with the effects of severe flooding in Bangladesh, the UN is using the latest in data and predictive analytics to forecast the next major monsoon floods, gauge likely impacts, and take action — before possible disaster hits, the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) said in statement.

“Doing something before crises hit can save more lives and costs less money, plus it’s far more dignified for the people we’re helping,” said OCHA.

Bangladesh is highly vulnerable to monsoon flooding.

In an average, approximately one-quarter of the country is inundated, OCHA said.

In some years, flooding is more intense and surpasses the ability of communities to cope, leading to the loss of human life and the destruction of infrastructure, livelihoods and homes, and creates deep humanitarian needs.

What began to trigger the release of CERF funds, according to OCHA, was a July 4 forecast of a high probability of severe flooding along the Jamuna River, with one-third of the area’s total population likely to be affected.

This was followed by the July 11 forecast predicting the floods would reach critical levels in five days. At this point, workers began distributing the aid.