Bangladesh & India Struggle as Floods

india floodAccording news reports and relief efforts, more than 20 million people have been affected by floods in South Asia due to torrential monsoon rains. Most of the victims and the bulk of the damage can be isolated to two countries, Bangladesh and India.

Bangladesh is one of the most flood-prone countries in the region. An estimated 80 million people are said be vulnerable to flooding each year. India, on the other hand, has not less than 40 million hectares at risk from annual floods from monsoon rains.

Part to blame in Bangladesh’s situation is its geographical location and topography. The country has 230 rivers, of which 57 are international. However, Bangladesh is a lower riparian country and depends on India for sufficient and regular flow of water to its river system that is the source of the country’s economic and environmental survival.

The relationship that that country has with floods is a very fragile one. Almost every year, monsoon rains floods about 20% to 25% of Bangladesh’s total territory. The country’s land area can be divided into five categories which ranges from very low to high elevated lands. Only a small percent of the country is classified as high lands leaving most of the other land types flooded but in different degrees. With very high population, it is only expected to find human settlements in all land categories except in very low land areas.

Being an agricultural country, Bangladesh benefits from flooding since river sediments keep their agricultural lands fertile. However, even though the annual floods provide fertile agricultural lands, a huge percent of the country’s population are situation in floodplain areas resulting to adverse effects on human lives and properties. The extreme flooding that occur in the country continue to take its toll on the country’s economy.

Four kinds of flooding can be found in Bangladesh. The first kind is flash flood which is normal during mid-April just before the start of the monsoon season. The second are rain-fed floods which happens in south-western deltas of the country. River floods come next which is only natural given the number of rivers and water ways the country has. River floods go beyond the riverbanks damaging huge amounts of human settlement territories. The last kind are storm surge floods which happens along the Bangladesh’s coastlines. Sometime, large cyclones can flood the whole coastal belt.

There have been at least eight extreme flood events in Bangladesh’s history where the damage and coverage of the flood affected more or less 50% of the country’s total land area. Those recorded in recent memory include the floods of 1987, 1988 and 1998, each time the flooding lasts from 15 days to 45 days.

Almost the same situations can be observed in India. The southwest monsoon rains cause Indian rivers like the the Brahmaputra rivers to swell over its banks flooding farmlands, rice paddies, and even urban areas.

 
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