Devastating monsoon rains erupted in the Southeast Asian countries of India, Nepal and Bangladesh from late August through early September of this year. Damage is expected to continue and last throughout the wet monsoon season. Over twenty million lives have been put at risk, not including the more than one thousand deaths across the three countries. Schools, businesses, and entire villages have been engulfed by the relentless floodwaters, which have destroyed everything in its path taking with it countless numbers of homes and livelihoods.
Monsoons are seasonal storms consisting of heavy rain and wind. In moderation, these storms not only assist in the growth of the economy, but also nourish the people of South Asia. India and its neighbors rely on the summer monsoon, which has a huge amount of rain, increasing the production of crops such as rice and tea, as well as dairy farms, which are all important goods for South Asian farmers.
Over 20 million people have been affected by the monsoon flooding in South Asia, not only destroying crops and homes, but also putting people at risk for contracting infectious diseases is very high across the flooded countries. At least 1,100 deaths have been recorded amongst the three countries. Hundreds of deaths and thousands of injuries have been by drowning, suffocation, and crushing. Thousands of businesses and schools have been obliterated by the forceful waters and falling debris. These massive storms have caused the destruction of 18,000 schools and kept 1.8 million children from going to school. “We know that the longer children are out of school following a disaster like this, the less likely it is that they’ll ever return,” said Rafay Hussain, the General Manager of Save the Children in Bihar. Education is rare in villages such as the ones in South Asia; therefore, these kind of devastating events have a greater chance of preventing the continuation of education altogether.
In the eastern part of the Indian state of Utter Pradesh, 3,097 villages are under water and about 3 million people have been overwhelmed by flooding in that area. The army was called in soon after this incident, helping with evacuations and supplying cities with water. Vice President of International Services at the American Red Cross went to South Asia to find destroyed countries. Soon after, rescue workers, police, and citizens of the country helped to pull 13 people from the debris and also looked for more people buried underneath. It was not easy finding help for the injured, but the International Services managed to do what they could.
Countries in Southeast Asia are accustomed to seasonal monsoons, which are critical for the continued nourishment and economic growth of the people residing there. Nonetheless, no one was prepared for the devastation that was unleashed on the people of India, Nepal and Bangladesh this summer season. “We get flooding every year but I have never seen anything quite like this in my life,” said Ashok Baruah, a farmer in one of the areas impacted by the flood. Addressing this humanitarian crisis is not going to be easy as natural disasters are seemingly becoming more prevalent. It appears the very aspect of nature that nourishes Southeast Asia every year also has the potential to destroy it.