To understand why there is such a vital need for these mobile hospitals, you first need to understand the geography of Bangladesh. Dominated by massive rivers—some stretching more than 18 miles from bank to bank—the low-lying country is about the size of Iowa but has a population about half that of the United States. Many of its people live on river islands known as chars, which are temporary buildups of fertile silt that make extremely good farmland, but dissolve into the water after a few years. On top of that, the changing climate has created more frequent floods that leave even the more-stable land on the banks of the rivers at risk of going under.
For obvious reasons, nobody wants to build an expensive hospital on ground that's destined to disappear. By putting the hospital on a boat, like nonprofits Friendship and Impact Foundation do, doctors can get around the land issue and get the added benefit of mobility up and down the country's three major rivers.