While North Americans’ attention was fixed on Hurricane Harvey, South Asia’s worst monsoon floods in years have triggered landslides, destroyed homes, farmland, and drinking water supplies, killed more than 1,200 people, and affected 16 million in India, Nepal, and Bangladesh.
More than one-third of Nepal and Bangladesh have been flooded, BBC reports, citing the International Federation of the Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC). “All three countries suffer frequent flooding during the June-September monsoon season, but international aid agencies say things are worse this year, with thousands of villages cut off and people deprived of food and clean water for days,” Aljazeera reports.
“This is fast becoming one of the most serious humanitarian crises this region has seen in many years, and urgent action is needed to meet the growing needs of millions of people affected by these devastating floods,” said IFRC Deputy Regional Director Martin Faller. “Millions of people across Nepal, Bangladesh, and India face severe food shortages and disease caused by polluted flood waters.”
The impacts are expected to multiply in Bangladesh, “as swollen Indian rivers flow down through it in the coming days,” BBC notes. Save the Children Director Mark Pierce called the situation “extremely desperate”, noting that “the sheer volume of water is also making it really difficult to access some of the communities most in need.”
“I could not find a single dry patch of land,” said IFRC’s Matthew Marek, after a flyover to assess the damage in Bangladesh. “Farmers are left with nothing, not even with clean drinking water.”
In a Tuesday evening email to supporters, ClimateTruth.org Executive Director Stephen Kretzmann put a human face on the South Asia and Houston disasters, revealing that his in-laws were trapped in their home in Houston, dry so far, but on a street made nearly impassable by flooding.
“I’ve worked around the world on climate and energy issues for the last 25 years, but today the threats posed by severe weather enhanced by fossil fueled climate change have hit home. Literally,” he said. “For those who live closest to Houston’s vast petrochemical complexes, the need is particularly great.”
And “unfortunately, Houston is not alone,” he added. “All around the world, the poorest and most vulnerable among us will suffer first and worst from climate impacts. This is exactly why stopping fossil fuel industry expansion is a global justice issue. We know that Hurricane Harvey, like Sandy, Katrina, and Typhoon Haiyan was supercharged by fossil-fueled climate change. The connection to climate change is crystal clear: climate change makes more of these storms likely, and it makes them worse.
“We are all literally in uncharted waters here, but together, we can continue to keep our course true for a just and clean transition away from fossil fuels.”
Kretzmann recommended these resources:
To help people on the front lines:
Global Giving, to support relief efforts in India, Bangladesh, and Nepal