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Children face year of food shortages after floods wreck harvests

© WFP Bangladesh/2004
Floods have contaminated water supplies throughout Bangladesh.

NEW YORK, 29 September 2004 – Recent floods have destroyed crops in Bangladesh, leaving large parts of the country without food. One million children are already facing acute malnutrition and UNICEF warns the crisis could continue for a year if urgent action isn’t taken.

The floods have also prevented farmers from planting seeds for the next harvest. Many families who rely on agriculture for a living will have no way of making money for months to come.

Key facts:

• 1.5 million children and women face malnutrition

• 30 million displaced or homeless from flooding

• 2004 floods the worst for six years

“They simply can’t afford to buy the nutritious food that they know their children need,” says UNICEF’s Nutrition Project Officer Harriet Torlesse. “Many of these children we know were already malnourished before the floods began, so unless we intervene they will slip much further into malnutrition. This would have devastating consequences for the survival, growth and health of these children.”

UNICEF has appealed for $50 million but has only received about 20 per cent so far. Without more assistance many children will not receive the help they need. Half a million pregnant women and nursing mothers are also facing malnutrition with serious consequences for their children.

This month’s flooding followed a devastating monsoon in July which killed around 700 people. The floods damaged the country’s sanitation system and contaminated water supplies. Many children have diarrhoea as result and may die if they’re not treated; diarrhoea is a leading killer of children in developing countries.

UNICEF is working with the World Food Programme to provide vulnerable children and women in the hardest-hit areas with supplementary food which is fortified with vitamins and minerals. The organization is also working with the Bangladesh Ministry of Health to give all young children de-worming tablets and Vitamin A capsules to guard against infections.





8 October 2004: Video report on the devastating effects caused by extreme flooding in Bangladesh.
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29 September 2004: UNICEF’s Nutrition Project Officer Harriet Torlesse describes effects of floods in Bangladesh.
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