Between July-September 1998, Bangladesh suffered one of its worse ever floods. Despite being flooding being common in this country, the floods of 1998 were particularly severe resulting in over 1000 deaths and 30 million people being made homeless.
CAUSES OF FLOODING IN BANGLADESH
Physical causes of flooding in Bangladesh
Bangladesh is a very low lying country, with 70% of its land area being less than 1m above sea level and 80% of it being floodplain.
Bangladesh receives large amounts of water passing through it with two major rivers (the Ganges and Brahmaputra). Both rivers have large volumes of water flowing through them to the sea as they have large drainage basins which increasing the flood risk.
Bangladesh has a monsoon climate and the annual torrential rains which result often result in the rivers exceeding their capacity and flooding;
In the spring, melting snow from the Himalayas further increases the flood risks as a lot of melt water enter the rivers at their source.
Human causes of flooding in Bangladesh
Increasing population in the Himalayas where the rain contributes to the source of the River Ganges and Brahmaputra has resulted in deforestation.
Deforestation is also believed to be responsible for the increased soil erosion which has led to large amount of silt being washed into the rivers and resulting in it being deposited on the river bed, reducing its channel capacity and increasing the chance of flooding.
Bangladesh is an LEDC and its lack of money and heavy national debt means that little money is available to spend on flood protection methods / defences.
EFFECTS OF FLOODING IN BANGLADESH
POSITIVE EFFECTS OF FLOODING
As well as providing water for crops, when flooding occurs, as there is friction between the water and the surface of the land, the water slows down and loses its energy. This loss of energy results in the deposition of rich fertile soil resulting in the providing important nutrients enabling people to grow crops.
This deposition of silt also creates land upon which people can live.
Over two thirds of the land area was covered by water and the capital, Dhaka, was 2m underwater.
30 million people were made homeless in the floods with many losing all their belongings.
1,070 people died - this death toll resulted from a number of things. As well as people being killed by drowning in the flood waters, health problems increased the number of deaths further. Contamination of water by waste and dead bodies / animals, and the lack of a clean water supply resulted in the spread of disease such as cholera and typhoid.
Food supplies were severely affected as flooding destroyed the rice stocks. The impact on the economy was significant with Bangladesh’s export industries seeing a 20% decrease in production with over 400 clothing factories forced to close.