People walk through flooded street during heavy rain showers in Mumbai on Eastern express highway near Kingcircle station, 30 August 2017. Photo: BCCL / India Times

By Anne Barker
8 September 2017

(ABC News) – An estimated 40 million people in South Asia are struggling to rebuild their lives after massive floods devastated the region nearly a month ago.

Entire villages across Bangladesh, India, and Nepal remained submerged under water since the floods began in mid-August.

Authorities have described it as the region's worst flood in 40 years, with a metre of rain falling in some areas in the space of days.

The worst-hit areas include Assam, Bihar, and Uttar Pradesh states in northern India, the Terai region in southern Nepal, and Kurigram and Chimari districts in northern Bangladesh.

In India alone, UNICEF estimated 31 million people were affected by the floods, losing their homes, livelihoods, cattle or property.

In Bangladesh, more than 8 million people were affected, including about 3 million children.

And in Nepal, the number affected was about 1.7 million people.

At least 1.5 million homes are believed to have been destroyed or damaged, along with thousands of schools, hospitals, roads and bridges.

Of the 1,300 people killed, aid agencies said 30 to 40 per cent were children.

In Nepal alone, at least 160 people are dead and 25 missing.

The flimsy nature of many homes made them particularly vulnerable.

"The people are very poor here and houses are made of mud. So when floods came it washed away their houses, and in some places the water came so quickly, with such force, that one village I saw looked like [it was] hit by a tornado or cyclone," Rowkan Khan from UNICEF's office in Kathmandu said. […]

Even as the waters slowly recede, the danger of mosquito and waterborne diseases has risen, with children again bearing the brunt of the threat.

Health workers fear the worst could yet be to come.

"This year, mosquito breeding is huge and already there have been dengue and malaria and chikungunya virus, etc.

"So these risks are huge, especially for children and women. Children play in muddy waters so the skin infections also appear hugely."

In India alone, the agency said 17 million children were in urgent need of humanitarian assistance, including basic nutrition support, health care and education.

Tens of thousands of schools were also inundated or damaged, making it impossible for children to continue their education.

Save the Children's chief executive in India, Thomas Chandy, said it was heartbreaking to hear so many tragic stories of destroyed lives and homes.

"Many older people I met recounted the horror of the floods, which hit them out of the blue.

"They haven't seen anything like this in many years."

Farmers too were counting the cost, with much of the affected area rural or farm land.

About 2.4 million hectares of cropland was lost to the floods.

Many farmers watched cattle and other livestock die or be swept away. [more]

South Asia floods: Estimated 40 million across India, Bangladesh, Nepal affected

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