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Bangladesh flood management

Posted by Lindy on November 29, 2011

The situation:

1/5 to ¼ of the country floods every monsoon, but this has the advantage of providing fertile soil. However, 50% to 70% is subject to flash floods which cause a lot of harm to the people and economically. So flood management is essential to raising the level of development of the people.

The problem:

2.         Nature of floods

It  has  230  rivers,  of  which  57  are  international, Bangladesh in most cases occupies the lower course.  Of the three large transboundary river systems  (Ganges,  Brahmaputra  and  Meghna),  only  7%  of  their  huge  catchment  areas  lies  in Bangladesh.

The seasonal flooding regime has been characterized by means of inundation of the different land types,  which  have  been  divided  into  five  categories,  ranging  from  very  low  to  high  land.  Except high  lands  (which  cover  30%  of  the  country’s  total  area),  all  other  types  are  subjected  to  flood inundation to different degrees. Excepting very low lands, human settlements can be found in all other land categories.

  • Bangladesh generally experiences four types of floods.
  • Flash floods occur during mid-April before the on-set of the south-westerly monsoon.
  • Rain-fed floods generally happen in the deltas in the south-western part of the country and are increasing in low-lying urban areas.
  • River floods are the most common; the areas are inundated during monsoon season along the river and in cases far beyond the riverbanks.
  • Storm surge floods occur along the coastal areas of Bangladesh, which has a coastline of about 800 km along the northern part of Bay of Bengal. In case of important cyclones the  entire  coastal  belt  is  flooded,  sometimes  causing  great  loss  of  lives.
  • Coastal  areas  are  also subjected to tidal flooding from June to September.

3.         Flood management and mitigation strategies

a) Initially after the early disasters, they went for huge structural projects. But these were expensive and took a long time to get on stream, so these were largely abandoned.

b) Then there was a move towards small  and  medium  scale  flood control, drainage and irrigation projects (FCDI)  to  provide  early benefits. But this concentration on just agriculture was seen to be short-sighted.

c) So next ecological protection came to the fore.

As a result, since the 1960’s about 628 large, medium and small-scale FCDI projects have been implemented; they comprise levees and embankments, drainage channel improvements, drainage structures,  dams  and  barrages,  pumping  systems,  etc.  They  have  provided  flood  protection  to about 5.37 million ha of land, which is about 35% of the total area.

But structural measure alone can not mitigate the disasters. The Flood Forecasting and

Warning System (FFWS), established in the 1970s has been under continual review.  85 flood-monitoring stations provide  real-time  flood  information  and  early  warning  with  lead-times  of  24  and  48  hours.  The FFWS  is  currently  assisting  Government,  disaster  managers  and  the  communities  living  in  the flood  prone  areas  in  matters  of  flood  preparedness,  preparation  of  emergency  mitigation  plans, agricultural planning and rehabilitation, etc

Taken from


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