Flooding is a major problem throughout the world, sometimes it costs many lives. In Less Economically Developed Countries (LEDCs) the effects of flooding can be disastrous, it can ruin people’s lively-hood, their homes and their family. This is the reason why people must be protected from floods, the effects of them, and the causes of them eliminated.
Bangladesh is a LEDC and suffers from severe floods regularly which results in many deaths and immense destruction on both, a geological and psychological level. The causes for these floods is Bangladesh’s situation in the world, its sits on the confluence of three major rivers, two being the Ganges and the Brahmaputra. Bangladesh is also extremely flat, 80% of the country is flood-plain or delta. This, heavy monsoon rain and melting snow flowing down into the rivers of Bangladesh from India and Nepal, make flooding extremely likely. Adding to these physical causes are the human causes, such as highly densely populated areas around rivers, lack of education and funds as well as deforestation limiting interception and transpiration. As life is always valued the people of Bangladesh must be protected.
There are many suggestions about what can be done to protect Bangladesh from it’s unfortunate state. The biggest problem that Bangladesh has concerning flood protection is the funds that would be needed to finance any major flood protection schemes, therefore Bangladesh would require loans from organisations or other countries which would increase Bangladesh’s, already substantial, debt.
Considering this one suggestion is:-
1). Allowing flooding to continue as normal as it is essential for agriculture, farming and the lively-hood of Bangladesh’s economy. However, the economy is not worth much while many people are dying because of floods and therefore the people of Bangladesh would not be happy. So therefore the extremes of the flooding would be controlled by suitable technology such as advance warning systems and proper communications. These would be financed by outside organisations as well as Bangladesh itself lowering costs to the minimum and not destroying the work of the many agricultural and fish labourers who rely on floods. This would also result in the lowering of deaths but not eliminating the threat completely. The second suggestion is a multi-national supported flood protection scheme financed by the World Bank:-
2). The Flood Action Plan (FAP) suggested in 1990 is an extremely expensive scheme and involves the building of bigger embankments all along the major rivers of Bangladesh and protection the coast with embankments. The FAP involves the setting up of regional groups which monitor the local rivers. The proposed embankments are shown in the map below.
Proposed Flood Action Plan, 1990
However, this scheme, being very expensive has brought up many social and geological implications as with these embankments, the main source of income for the inhabitants of Bangladesh could be compromised. Also, the need for such a expensive protection scheme for a relatively small country can be disputed as the money could go towards proper education and medical facilities which would give people the independence, courage and knowledge to create their own protection. This scheme, although being expensive, would save a great deal of lives.
The third suggestion consists of more sustainable ideas and schemes which are less expensive and would not defeat the threat of flooding but would provide a temporary compromise between the sustaining the life of the economy and the saving of the lives of the people:-
3).Flood embankments would only be built around major cities such as Dhaka keeping the rural areas as they are but still preserving the valuable lives of the thousands living in highly populated urban areas and the industry present in the cities. Improved forecasting and weather systems to provide advance warning to people so they can get to safety and education about the risks of floods. The building of flood shelters which sit on a vast table of earth, higher than the flood water level and big enough to house 150 families. It would contain space for schools and agricultural products as well as freshwater wells. This scheme would only be moderately expensive and would save lives but again, would not be a suitable long term and lasting solution.
Signs of improvement in Bangladesh have already started to break through. In May, 1994 Bangladesh was hit by one of the severest cyclones in recent history but still the death toll was far lower than usual. This was because of a new meteorological office which gave 36 hours’ warning. An increased number of food shelters, and an intense system of education people which had gone on for a few years prior to the floods gave people education and warning about the floods.
In conclusion, Bangladesh is a very volatile area when flooding concerned so in order to protect, great thought must be put in to produce an effective barrier against the extreme number of deaths caused by flooding in Bangladesh. I believe that building embankments along every river is not the right track to follow, I believe that smaller, cheaper and more sustainable projects such as improved forecasting, improved education and flood shelter are the right course to follow. Flooding is inevitable and so to build the way of avoiding the dangerous effects of flooding into the lifestyle of the people of Bangladesh would be ideal as they then would know not to build near rivers, how to prepare in case of a flood and where to go if a flood occurs. A person’s life can only be saved by the person themselves.
Signs of improvement in Bangladesh have already started to break through. In May, 1994 Bangladesh was hit by one of the severest cyclones in recent history but still the death toll was far lower than usual. This was because of a new meteorological office which gave 36 hours’ warning. An increased number of food shelters, and an intense system of education people which had gone on for a few years prior to the floods.