Statement by Alice Albright on floods and landslides in Bangladesh, DR Congo, Nepal and Sierra Leone

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Boys in a classroom in Sierra Leone. Credit: GPE/Stephan Bachenheimer

Washington D.C., August 25, 2017- I would like to express our great concern about floods and landslides that affected several GPE partner countries, including Bangladesh, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Nepal and Sierra Leone over the past weeks leading to deaths and displacement of millions of families. Our hearts go out to these families and to those working to assist them during this time of need.

Crises like these are a wake-up call for all of us to be better prepared to deal with the severe effects that an increasing number of climate-related natural disasters have on children’s lives, including their education, and to find new innovative solutions to help communities to get back on their feet as rapidly as possible.

Natural disasters like floods, mudslides and droughts tend to have a long-lasting negative effect on the education of children with destroyed or closed schools and teachers missing. Ensuring that children can return to school quickly and supporting those who are out of school is critical to sustain the education gains made in these countries.

In Bangladesh, 5.7 million people in 27 districts in the northern region are affected, according to the United Nations and 98 people are reported dead. More than 40,000 houses are destroyed and almost half a million are damaged. Academic activities in 4,000 primary and secondary schools, colleges and madrasas in the northern and northeastern districts have been severely affected. Many schools shut down due to low attendance of students who had taken refuge in flood shelters. Books and learning materials have been lost or damaged. UNICEF, a close GPE partner, has allocated US$90,000 to for emergency school repair and education arrangements for displaced children in temporary shelters.

In the Democratic Republic of the Congo’s Ituri Province, at least 150 people have been killed by a landslide that ravaged the fishing village of Tora, according to the United Nations. An estimated 280 children have been orphaned. At least 70 houses were destroyed. Potentially contaminated drinking water is of high concern and the lack of equipment to recover the dead is a problem. Information on how schools have been affected is not yet available.

In Nepal, more than 1.7 million people have been affected by monsoon flooding with at least 140 people dead, according to the United Nations. The worst affected districts are in the southern part of the country.  Almost 65,000 homes have been destroyed and more than 460,000 people displaced. Initial assessments show that at least 80 schools in 24 districts have been destroyed by the floodwaters and an additional 710 schools have sustained damage. More than 230,000 children of school age have been impacted. Many schools are used as temporary shelters.

In Sierra Leone, torrential rain caused fatal flooding and mudslides, killing an estimated 500 people, including more than 150 children, according to the United Nations. Hundreds are still missing. Almost half of nearly 6,000 affected people are children, many are without a home. Preliminary findings indicate that more than 30 schools have been damaged, others are used as temporary displacement centers and will have to be repaired to reopen in September after the summer vacation.

The Global Partnership for Education is in contact with the governments and development partners in the affected countries exploring how best to ensure that schools and children’s education can resume as soon as possible. We urge all donors and partners to ensure that sufficient funding is available for the affected communities in Bangladesh, Democratic Republic of Congo, Nepal and Sierra Leone, including for education.

 

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