A father and child paddle a boat around their flooded house to see if it has been vandalized or robbed. A brother and sister spread their wet school books out under the sun to dry them out. A girl and her father take a raft to feed the livestock they had to leave behind when floodwaters drove them from their home.
This is how Bangladeshi children who were forced out of their homes by heavy monsoon season rains spent their days after the region was hit by historic flooding. Their childhoods have been interrupted, their schools closed and their belongings waterlogged, if not ruined or washed away.
But they are the lucky ones — they are alive.
When natural disasters like monsoons strike, children aren't always capable of the quick thinking, agility or luck it takes to outrun danger. They are also more likely to drown in flooding, now a more prevalent threat with the surge of extreme weather. As of July 2019, heavy monsoon rains, flooding and landslides have killed at least 93 children across Bangladesh, Nepal and India.
“We are witnessing a worrisome trend,” said Henrietta Fore, UNICEF's Executive Director. “Cyclones, droughts and other extreme weather events are increasing in frequency and intensity. As we have seen in Mozambique and elsewhere, poorer countries and communities are disproportionately affected. For children who are already vulnerable, the impact can be devastating.”
The damage monsoons inflict on homes, schools and public utilities rob kids of the security they need to stay healthy, develop and grow. Flooding can disable sanitation facilities and contaminate water supplies, increasing the risk of diseases like cholera and diarrhea. If crops communities rely upon for their food and livelihoods are destroyed, kids become easy prey for malnutrition, especially when damaged roads and bridges keep humanitarian aid from reaching the families and children who need help.
When monsoons and other natural disasters strike, UNICEF is among those first on the ground and the last to leave. By prepositioning supplies in the days before a storm, UNICEF can quickly reach affected families and children with survival essentials. Working with local partners, UNICEF delivers safe drinking water, hygiene and sanitation kits, medicine, protection, psychosocial support and sets up child-friendly spaces and temporary classrooms to help children cope. When children are lost in the storm or parents or caregivers are killed, UNICEF protection teams care for them while searching for surviving family members.
Once the immediate crisis has passed, UNICEF works to prepare communities for the next emergency by:
- Helping to strengthen primary health care systems in natural disaster–prone areas.
- Assessing risks to schools and other community services kids need, then bolstering them to withstand the next storm.
- Providing durable solutions to the problems families face during an emergency while delivering on-the-spot relief, like water, hygiene supplies and tents for temporary learning spaces
When disaster strikes, a donation to UNICEF USA is the best way to help children in crisis. UNICEF USA is highly efficient. Nearly 90 percent of every dollar spent goes directly to help children. When it comes to making the biggest difference, UNICEF can't be beat. UNICEF has helped save more children’s lives than any other humanitarian organization and can ship lifesaving supplies almost anywhere in the world where children are suffering within 48-72 hours.
In 2018, UNICEF provided the full-range of lifesaving support children to children in almost 300 humanitarian emergencies:
- 19 million children were vaccinated against measles
- 3 million severely malnourished children received lifesaving treatment
- 43 million people received emergency water supplies
- 6.9 million children continued their education through conflict and crisis.
- 3.6 million children who suffered trauma received psychological and emotional support
Please give today to help UNICEF stay ever-ready to help children when they need it most.