With much of the world’s media focusing on the historic floods currently washing through Texas and the American South, little attention has been given to the even more deadly monsoon rains that have been washing over South Asia at exactly the same time.
Currently India, Nepal, and Bangladesh are being hit by the most extreme floods seen in the region for more than a decade. The huge amount of water being dumped on the region has exacted a deadly toll, with 1,200 people known to have died so far, while over 40 million have been displaced. The damage done to the infrastructure and agricultural lands is also expected to impact South Asia long after the flood waters have receded.
The flooding has been caused by a particularly heavy monsoon that has so far dumped an estimated 30 quadrillion liters of water on Bangladesh alone. Compare this to the 86 trillion liters that has so far fallen on Houston. This has not only led to the obviously rising waters, but also fatal landslides in Nepal, destruction of entire villages in Bangladesh, and buildings collapsing in India. All of these situations have led to the heavy loss of life that has been seen so far.
With a third of Bangladesh already under water, it doesn’t look like things are going to get better anytime soon. Not only is the monsoon season expected to last this year until the end of September, but even when the flood waters drain away, the challenges will remain huge.
“Even though flood waters are receding in some parts, it provides little respite,” said Thomas Chandy, the CEO of Save the Children, who are working in the region. “The mammoth recovery operation is only just beginning. The challenge now is to prevent potential outbreaks of disease like cholera or diarrhea.”
In addition to this, it is thought that some 440,000 hectares (1,000,000 acres) of agricultural land has been washed away, and as the flood arrived at the beginning of the planting season, it will severely limit many peoples' access to food over the coming weeks and months.
But more than just in the short term, the extreme flooding could have ripples further down the line. So far 18,000 schools have had to be shut, meaning that 1.8 million children are no longer getting an education. It has been shown many times before that the longer children are out of education, the less likely they are to return when everything settles down again.
Even when the flood waters drain away, things are going to be difficult. Entire communities of some of the poorest people on the planet have been obliterated, with those who had little to begin with likely to be left with even less.