The community of farmers around Shanir Haor in Sunamganj desperately toiled for weeks moving earth with their own hands to fix a dam by themselves, often in the pouring rain, to protect their crops from early inundation and ruination. What timely assistance they had from the Water Board or Engineering Colleges speaks volumed about the configuration of science, technology, society and economy in our part of the world.
Given all the environmental changes and human forces at play, we really need to observe, think, communicate and invest better. Sunamganj District, where about 2.5 milllion people live, is getting better connected to itself and the rest of the country these days. It isn't exactly an agricultural breadbasket, but plays an important role in the stone industry, which feeds into construction and is full of beautiful wetlands, songs and spirituality.
The farmers of Shanir Haor were unsucessful in stopping the water and as the water came in those with the physical power salvaged what they could of their unripened paddy. Its sad because in this part of desh, you only really get one crop. National electronic media picked this up in the videos below.
Rotting crops release toxins which kill fish upon whom many also economically rely. However, this spring, the extent of fish deaths and animal deaths up the food chain have raised concerns that uranium mining upstream in India is poisoning the Bangladesh end of the Surma Valley. The Uranium mine is 3 miles into India in a place called Ranikhor, Meghalaya.
This is a holding page which will be updated as I am. Feel free to a your own updates in the comments.
- PM visited the areas with a group of ministers, announcing various measures including 'halving interest rates' on any loans that affected farmers had out.
- A friend from Jaganathpur reports that there hasn't been such a 'crop failure' in the area for 50-60 years
- 360 sacks of government allocated relief rice (for people in Rangarchor) sinks in a boat moored of Mollickpur, Sunamganj Sadar during a storm.
- Three engineers from the Bangladesh Water Board are suspended pending investigation of their role in repair works. Over 200 000 hectares and 800 000 families reportedly damaged and affected.
- A really rich investigative report from Zyma Islam states that tenders in upwards of 48 crores were floated for the repair of the dams. Locals say that he contractors never get the work done in time. This year the early flooding has really caught them out.
- Water Resources Minister Anisul Islam Mahmud seems quite keen to attribute the floods to climate change rather than a more local human-institutional failure. That said the uranium story is being investigated.
- Climate Adapation expert and negotiator Saleemul Huq writes about whether the haor floods are attributable to human induced climate change.
- Agronomist Yusuf Ali makes a call to Dhaka's cultural Bengalis and communities of Sylheti heritage to come forward.
- At the same time, the financial cycle in Bangladesh, with the Budget announced in the first week of June, is out of sync with the monsoon generally. While the mega narratives of corruption and climate change are no doubt present in this disaster, we can see other vital matters, of the time structure of financial planning, the distribution of power and technological creativity between the water board, contractors, farmers and surrounding society at play.
- Climate Change News registers the story and the impacts on prices which have recently shot up.