Tuesday, 14 April 2009

Case study - Bangladesh flooding 2004

Bangladesh is a low lying country most of which lies on the delta of Ganges, Brahmaputra and Meghna.

Why the flood risk?

Physical factors:
Sources of rivers are in Himalayas so snowmelt adds to the discharge during spring
S Asia has a monsoon climate and experiences a wet season between May and September when low pressure and winds blowing from SW across Bay of Bengal bring heavy rain to coastal regions.
Bangladesh also suffers from cyclones that bring high winds, heavy rainfall and storm surges.

Human Factors:
Urbanisation - the capital city Dhaka now has a population of more than 1 million people
Rapid deforestation in Himalayas has had a negative effect on rates of interception and evapotranspiration resulting in more water reaching the rivers.
river management is difficult to implement in LEDCs. Average GDP per capita is around $300.
Population rely on subsistence agriculture to survive growing rice on rented plots of land so there is little income from taxation for Government and Bangladesh relies heavily on foreign aid to finance large scale development project which might help prevent floods.

In 2004 the monsoon season brought more rainfall than usual.

Social impacts:
36 million people were made homeless
By mid September the death toll had risen to 800. People died as a result of disease because they had no access to clean water.
Landless labourers and small farmers were the most severely affected in rural areas and in the urban areas it was typically the slum dwellers squatting on poorly drained land who suffered the most.

Economic impacts:
Flood also caused serious damage to infrastructure – roads, bridges, embankments, railway lines, irrigation systems
All domestic and internal flights had to be suspended during July
Road and rail links into Dhaka were severely affected
Value of damage was assessed as being in region of $2.2 billion of 4% of total GDP for 2004

Environmental impacts:
During July and August approximately 38% of the total land area was flooded including 800,000 ha of agricultural land and Dhaka
Floods caused river bank erosion especially on embankment areas close to the main channels, soil erosion, water-logging, water contamination

Short term responses
The government working with non-governmental organisations provided emergency relief: rice, clothing, medicines, blankets and towels

In July the United Nations activated a disaster management team to coordinate the activities of the various UN agencies. They supplied critical emergency supplies and conducted a ‘damage and needs assessment’ in affected areas.

Bilateral aid from individual countries was directed to the UN team.
Self help schemes – local people worked together to rebuild their properties and communities.

Long – term responses
Long term responses to major floods are largely dependent on foreign aid from both official and unofficial sources. Previous river management schemes implemented y foreigners and funded by aid have proved to be inadequate. These schemes paid little attention to knowledge of rivers and many attempts at river management failed

Recent small scale community based projects have resulted in lives being saved. Food shelters and early warning systems have been successfully put in place.

Following the 2004 floods additional financial aid was granted for a period of 5 years. This was mainly in the form of a loan from the World Bank to pay for repairs to infrastructure, water resource management and education.

And the future?
Disaster preparedness is a key priority for the future. This includes flood management and improved water resources. It is also planned that flood-resistant designs should be used in all social and economic infrastructure projects