Causes and consequences of flooding in Bangladesh Essay

Causes and consequences of flooding in Bangladesh, 490 words essay example

Essay Topic: food security, global warming, population, environmental

Bangladesh is extremely susceptible to hazards such as earthquakes and cyclones and repeatedly suffers from two types of flooding, namely river flooding, and coastal flooding from storm surges in the Bay of Bengal. The majority of the country's 162 million population live on the flood plains of the Rivers Ganges and Brahmaputra. The floods actually help the farmers by depositing fertile silt and this enables them to grow rice, sugar, jute and other crops. However, when the floods are too intense, the inundation destroys lives, crops and animals. Bangladesh is predominantly an agricultural country together with livestock, poultry, fisheries and forestry and where lives and livelihood depend on this for food security and employment. Being a developing country, Bangladesh has many poor people thus the impact of the floods can be devastating.
The causes of the flooding are climatic, physical and human. Bangladesh with its monsoon climate receives between 1800mm to 2600mm of rainfall per year, and 80 percent of this heavy rainfall occurs between June and September. Snow melt from the Himalayas during springtime and glaciers melting due to global warming makes the sea level and the river levels of the Ganges and Brahmaputra increase drastically. These meet with River Meghna at a confluence and at the sea where there is a low-lying delta. Tropical cyclones from the Bay of Bengal bring strong winds and heavy rainfall and sea levels rise with tidal surges of up to 6 metres in height, which in turn stop the river floodwater escaping. Bangladesh is a very low lying country with 2/3 of the land less than 10 metres above sea level and 80% of the country considered floodplain. Deforestation at the foothills of the Himalayas has led to surface run-off, causing the river to silt, and urbanisation on the delta floodplain has also led to rapid surface run-off, both making the river levels rise.
In 2004, 80% of Bangladesh including the northern, southern and central Bangladesh and the Greater Dhaka area was submerged under 1 metre of water, and this led to environmental, social and economic effects. US$2.28 Billion damage caused by the floods, affected housing, transport and agriculture. Rather than leaving fertile silt, the 'char' areas were destroyed leaving behind infertile sand deposits and damaging over 2 million acres of productive agricultural land and much of the rice, jute and sugar. There were food shortages, hunger and starvation due to damage to crops, as most were subsistence farmers. Destruction of fisheries and death of thousands of livestock due to the inundation, further affected their income and livelihood. In addition to this 3 million homes were damaged, 2 million people made homeless, at least 1,679 people killed due to drowning, lightening, snakebites and diseases, wells were polluted with lack of safe drinking water leading to disease such as cholera, dysentery and diarrhea, business income was affected as factories, warehouses, machinery and goods were damaged or destroyed, infrastructure such as transport, power supply, services and communication networks were damaged, hospitals were full and schools were damaged.

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