Bangladesh is an economically developing country in south East Asia (See map). The capital city of Bangladesh is Dhaka, which has a population of 8. 5 million. Bangladesh has a dense population. Its population is 129 million. Its annual growth is 4%. Its inflation is 7%. Its major industries are Jute manufacturing, cotton textiles, food processing, steel, fertilizer’s, rice, tea, wheat, sugarcane, potatoes, beef, milk and poultry. Its major trading Partners are Western Europe, US, Hong Kong, Japan, India, China and Singapore. It has an area of 143,998 sq km.
Most of Bangladesh’s population live on the floodplain and delta of the Ganges and Brahmaputra rivers. 50% of the land lay 15m below sea level. Bangladesh has a monsoon climate, therefore it receives between 1400-1480mm of rain per annum most of which falls between May and October. It has a beautiful land scope with a lot of history and a variety of attractions. It has the longest beach and the largest littoral mangrove forest in the world. Flooding is a common problem, which occurs annually and affects large areas of the country. In 1998 a flood lasted 65 days and destroyed crops, houses, roads and railways and left many people dead.
Flooding may be a result of natural or human activities. In this article I will find out if the floods were from a result of natural or human causes and if anything can be done to prevent future flooding. Drainage basin Trees at the foothills of the Himalayan Mountains intercept most of the rainfall that falls in the area (see figure 1). Rain, which does find its way to the ground, infiltrates into the soil in both the lowland and high land areas, the mountains. The infiltrated water then makes its way to the Ganges or Brahmaputra via groundwater or through flow.
Any water that hadn’t made its way through the vegetation and remained there goes back into the atmosphere via evaporation. Once the ground is completely saturated and the water table can no longer take any more water, any water that reaches the ground reaches the river by overland flow, which eventually runs off into the rivers. Some water from overland flow reaches the atmosphere through evaporation from the ground. The water in the river eventually reaches the Ganges delta and then the bay of the bangal. There is a diagram below illustrating the drainage basin.
Below is a table describing the range of human activities, which take place on the flood plains of the rivers Ganges and Bramahputra. It includes why they take place their and what effects it has on the drainage basin and people. Key: Blue = positive effects. Red = negative effects Human Activity (What is it and where is it taking place? ) Why is it taking place there? Effect of the activity on the drainage basin. Effect of the act on the people. Agriculture They use the floodplain for farming because it has rich fertile silt and it has perfect conditions for growing a lot of crops, mainly rice.
In order to grow these crops and have enough land to grow them on, the government had to cut down a lot of trees. Having farmland on the floodplain is an advantage for the residents/ farmers because it means they are able to grow their crops and have food. Fishing There is a large amount of fishing that takes place and this is because the dams stop the fish from migrating, so because of this there are some areas, which have a large amount of fish living in them. Effects Ecosystem Dams will block fish migration so fish farming will rise.
Dams will also increase the water level, thus increases the chance of a flood. The advantage for using the floodplain for fishing and being able to have a lot of fish is that the residents will have a lot of food and will be able to have a good supply of fish. Housing They built houses on the floodplain for the farmers/workers that work nearby. The effect of having houses on the floodplain is that they had to cut down a lot of trees so they could build these houses. Another effect is that the houses don’t allow as much rain to go into the soil and instead it just flows straight to the river.
The advantage for the people is that they live nearby there work. However, they do have a high chance of loosing their houses. Deforestation It took place here because they needed to cut down the trees in order to have space for housing, industry and farmland. The effect of deforestation on the floodplain is that the rain flows to river faster and also the soil erodes quicker. The advantage for the people is that they get houses; they also get building material from the cut down trees such as firewood. Factories/industries Dhaka
They built factories and industries on the floodplain because here they can get work force. They will also have power from the water/river. They can also release sewage and waste into the river. The effects for the drainage basin is that the water will get to the river quickly because of the concrete and from this the water cannot reach the soil and there are no trees to intercept the water. The advantages for the people are that they will get jobs. There will also be money coming in for the country to be able to supply them for equipment that they need.
Interviews taken with the people affected by the floods. These are some of the interviews that were taken with different people that were affected in different ways by the floods. The first interview was with a bus driver and this is some of the things he mentioned in his interview ‘It was terrible, I think it was the worst flood I have ever been caught up with, the roads, railways, bridges and even the embankments were swept away and they were all more or less damaged by the floodwaters, I could not believe my eyes when I saw them today’.
Another interview that was taken was with an elderly woman who had been living in her village for a fairly long time. These are some of the things she said ‘ I woke very early this morning and found that my whole village was flooded and the nearby farm where my husband and children work was also flooded, I did not know what to do, there was no where I could go to get away from the flood because the next village was also flooded. As you can tell from this woman a lot of villages were damaged and farmland was flooded, which means that a lot of people would have been left unemployed and this could also result to lack of food. An associate of the government was also interviewed and he seemed to be very worried about the flood, this is what he had to say ‘many people were stranded without food or clean water.
Most of the people had lost a lot of their belongings if not all of it. He also gave us a lot of detailed results such as; 1,000,000 people were taking refuge, 918 deaths, 5,500hectares of crops flooded, over 50% of crops lost in flooded areas, 26,500 cattle were killed, 15,927km of damaged roads, 4,528km of damaged embankments, 1,718 schools were damaged, 366 police stations were damaged and around 2,716 flood shelters were damaged, so as you can tell by the results the flood had caused a lot of damage to Bangladesh.
A shop owner was also interviewed and he seemed to be very distressed, he said ‘some shops remained open however my shop was one of the shops that was badly flooded and most of my stock was damaged from the flood. I could see a lot of people searching for pure drinking water, which of course was very limited during the flood’. The last interview that was taken was with a geographer to see what he thought caused the floods, this is what he had to say ‘well, I think the cause of this flood is from a human cause; the cutting down of trees meant that there was little interception of the surface run off so the river had no choice but to overflow.
Also Bangladesh is an LEDC so it does not have the funds for good flood prevention methods, so the government has not yet set up flood defences. Below is a table showing the solutions to attempt to reduce the floods that are occurring in Bangladesh, also included in the table is whom they and the conflicts they may cause would affect. Name of flood prevention scheme Rank order for cost Description of how it works Who would be in favour or against the flood prevention scheme and why? Plan 1: Build embankments along the river channel 6 It has to be up to 7m high and has to be built along a river and not just in a village.
Building them would bring in jobs for the villagers. The embankments will limit the flow of floodwater back into the river channel, leading to inactive water and increases in number of mosquito’s carrying malaria. The villagers would be in favour for this flood prevention scheme because they would be able to have jobs and earn money. However the government would be against this because they will find the scheme very expensive for them. Plan 2: Provide emergency medical stores in each village-train some villagers in basic health care. 2 It would have to enclose essential drugs, dressings and water purification tablets.
They would have to train a few villagers in basic health care. This scheme would reduce the risks of disease spreading and provide immediate help for injured people. I don’t think anyone will be in favour for this scheme because it does not prevent the floods from happening or saving damage from the floods; it only talks about helping the areas after the flood has happened. Plan 3: Build flood protection shelters in each village 4 There would be large buildings that would be able to give shelter for up to 1000 people. This scheme will also be able to shelter some animals.
The residents/farm owners would lose their farms and houses because this scheme does not prevent the floods from damaging their houses. Plan 4: Provide emergency stores of farm replacements 1 Would contain new seeds, new seeding and supplies of fertiliser. These would allow farmers to get back to work quickly when floods subside. The farmers will be for this however they will also be against it because their homes/farms will not be protected by this scheme. Plan 5: Build flood proof grain storage sheds 2 This scheme would enable the villages to preserve grain and foods for after the floods have hit.
The farmers will be against this because it will mean they will loose their farms. Plan 6: Sink new tube wells 3 In this scheme they would build special wells that would protect water supplies during floods. Farmers will be against this scheme because they will be loosing out on their farmland. Plan 7: Link up to emergency flood warning system 4 In this scheme they would build new communications masks and communication centres, so that villagers would be warned before a flood occurs. The residents will want this scheme because it will mean that they can prepare themselves for a flood.
I also think the government will favour this scheme because it will save them a lot of money if they are prepared for a flood; they will have less damage to clear up at the end of a flood. After seeing all of these schemes, it shows that it is difficult to stop the floods when the government do not want to spend a lot of money, however I think that the best scheme would be plan 7 (communication masts) I say this because if the residents and government were warned before a flood happened then they would save a lot of lives and might be able to stop a lot of damage. However, a flood will still cause damage whatever anyone does.