“Looking at the shelters, I could see where and how the land would be affected,” said WFP reports officer Laura Philips. “As we have seen from the beginning of the crisis, the slightest rains lead to slippery slopes, flash flooding and, essentially, a mud bath.”
Now, as the pre-monsoon rains begin, the World Food Programme (WFP) is preparing to avert a potential crisis that could impact the lives of as many as 200,000 Rohingya refugees—the floods and landslides of the monsoon season.
Every year, between May and August, Bangladesh is drenched with rain. Intense flooding and landslides sweep away unstable land, leaving families homeless. In Cox’s Bazar, the rains this year could make Kutupalong— the world’s largest refugee camp—a milieu of broken shelters, some accessible, others inaccessible.
To prepare for the onslaught, WFP is leveraging the expertise of its logisticians and engineers to enhance its ability to deliver food to Rohingya families in need.
WFP staff is extending vital roads across the camps while building a quarter-mile bridge to allow humanitarian aid and people to safely cross the principal waterway in Cox’s Bazar. In exchange for cash to buy food, the agency is working with refugees to fortify embankments and clear drainage channels to reduce the risk of landslides and flooding.
Where necessary, WFP has leveled land to provide safer living spaces for the most at-risk households.
“Our engineers are working around the clock to help build bridges and roads, fortify unstable terrains and reinforce sites against strong winds,” Philips added. “We are exploring options to reach all refugees if and when the sites become inaccessible, including using porters and storing food closer to the communities.”