Floods rage, crippling local economies
in Armidale Diocese, Australia
by Margaret Rodgers
Rural areas of northwest New South Wales in Australia are experiencing severe flooding along the Namoi River valley, with minor flooding along other river systems. The rural towns of Wee Waa, Narrabri and Walgett are badly affected. This devastation comes when the area was beginning to lift out of the decade-long period of drought that had crippled the local economy and the livehood of people on the land.
``There will be no loss of life, but this will ruin many farmers,'' Bishop Peter Chiswell of Armidale, whose diocese includes this area, said.``They have only just been able to plant crops which might have brought them an income after devastating drought. The crops will be ruined.
``Our rural industry is already seriously affected by world freetrade policies. For instance, today's wool prices are only one-and-a-half times what they were in the 1950s, while wages in the industry are 12 times higher. ``This affects our parishes, because people have less to give.'' It is estimated up to $100 million damage has been caused to homes and roads in this NSW northwest, one of Australia's major wheat-growing areas.
in Kushtia Diocese, Bangladesh
by Lisa Barrowclough
Seasonal floods reported in Bangladesh may threaten the livelihoods of farmers in his diocese of Kushtia, Bishop Michael Baroi of the United Church of Bangladesh reports.
The flooding has ``become part of our lives,'' he said, because the riverbeds are so filled with silt that they cannot hold all the rain. ``This is only the beginning,'' he said, given that the monsoon season has just started, bringing downpours that can last from seven to 10 days. Bishop Baroi said he extends ``every sympathy, especially to those who have lost crops.'' This is the time of sowing in Bangladesh, and the flooding can mean that farmers and their families will be left with nothing.
``Once the crop is lost or damaged,'' Bishop Baroi said, ``they are under debt for life, contributing to Bangladesh's great national poverty and burden of international debt.'' Bishop Baroi says he struggles with the poverty of his country, and adds that if he had the chance to ask God one question it would be: ``Why have you given some so much and some so little?'' Yet, Bishop Baroi says he remains hopeful: ``There is God, and he will look after us. We are a poor church, but our mission is for the poorest.''
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