The World Food Programme (WFP) provided assistance to more than 275 000 people affected by flooding in Northern Bangladesh using a combination of cash and food to urgently meet the basic needs of people whose homes and agricultural lands have been inundated.

“Mostly, 80 to 90 percent of houses are already inundated by the floods. Crops are damaged and agricultural lands are already submerged. People have already shifted their houses to the high lands for shelters,” WFP Bangladesh member Nigar Dil Nahar said.

To mitigate the impact of the severe flooding, the government of Bangladesh and WFP have activated their forecast-based financing project for the first time.

This innovative approach uses weather forecasts to trigger early actions, such as cash transfers, that can help reduce the impact of natural disasters in conjunction with existing disaster relief interventions.

“WFP in this area is piloting a project called Forecast Based Financing (FBF). FBF is a project which allows us (WFP) to use the flood and weather forecasts to trigger the cash transfers to the affected people,” Dil Nahar said.

Around 5 000 households (25 000 people) received US$53 through mobile money transfers in Kurigram district as part of the project.

Cash was distributed to the most vulnerable, including families headed by disabled people, the elderly and single women.

The assistance helped people pay for basic needs such as food and other urgently needed goods and services.

“We were given 4 500 Taka and we are very happy even in our sadness, we are happy because the money has helped me a lot ,” resident Saleha Begum said.

WFP is supporting more than 250 000 people in three north western districts with fortified biscuits that will sustain them for three days as an immediate response to the floods.

The biscuits are often used in emergencies as they are nutritious, easy to transport and do not need cooking.

The Bangladesh Ministry of Disaster Management and Relief reports that 2.3 million people have been affected in 20 of Bangladesh’s 64 districts.

WFP is closely monitoring the floods in coordination with the government and is ready to assist further, should the situation deteriorate.