Bangladesh- Flooding

Most of the land in Bangladesh forms a delta of the Ganges, Brahmaputra and Meghna rivers.

Living in the delta area is advantageous as the soil is extremely fertile. The sediment is rich in alluvial deposits due to the rivers. The coastal areas are also used for shrimp farming.

There are over 900 people per km^2 in Bangladesh.

Causes of flooding

  • Monsoon rainfall- 75% of annual total
  • Deforestation of the Himalayas for housing in Tibet, India and Nepal has reduced interception and removal of moisture
  • Convergence of the three rivers
  • Meltwater from the Himalayas
  • Cyclones from the Bay of Bengal
  • 70% of the delta and floodplain are less than 1 m above sea level
  • Cutting down trees along the shoreline to make space for more shrimp farms.
  • The country is in large debts so much of its money has to be spent paying off debt rather than building defenses. There is insufficient funding for any major schemes. Other countries are also not investing to help the situation.
  • Lack of international investment- very few companies see profit in Bangladesh, so do not spend money and help improve the economy or the flood defences of anywhere in the country.
  • Overseas pressure means that the Bangladeshi Government is being encouraged to build up big industries before flood defences.
  • Governmental corruption has meant money intended for flood defences has never been used for that.
  • Poor communications. Many do not have internet access or a phone, so there is no access to flood warnings for them.
  • Ganges and Brahmaptra rivers have a 1.75 million km^2 drainage basin, ending in Bangladesh.
  • There is deforestation in the Himalayas meaning more water is reaching the rivers into Bangladesh due to a reduction in interception.
  • River diversion- the Ganges has been diverted for irregation, when has stopped its supply of river sediment, which means Bangladesh is effectively sinking.
  • Fresh water wells- in the 1980s, more than 100,000 tube wells and 20,000 deep wells were sunk into the delta to provide drinking water. The wells have reduced water tables and added to subsidence at 2.5cm per year.

Protection attempts

  • Flood Action Plan funded by the World Bank runs projects to monitor flood risks
  • Levees and embankments have been constructed to increase the capacity of the delta
  • Some buildings are built on stilts to reduce the impact of flooding upon them

1998 floods

  • 66% of the country submerged by water
  • Capital- Dhaka- was cut off
  • 23 million homeless
  • 130,000 cattle lost
  • 660,000 hectares of crops damaged
  • Entire national rice stock destroyed
  • Almost 25% of children under 5 were malnourished and widespread starvation was forecast
  • Dhaka sewage system collapsed
  • Drinking water supply was contaminated
  • Diarrhea and dysentery outbreaks occurred
  • Incomes of the 2 largest companies decreased by 20%
  • The textile industry employs over 1.5 million people, mostly in low-lying areas. After the floods, 400 factories had to close, leaving 166,000 workers (130,000 of whom were women, so unlikely to find work as easily) unemployed.
  • 11,000 km of road were damaged
  • 1,000 schools were destroyed- students lost all their books.
  • Bangladeshi Government had to buy 350,000 tons of cereals from Asian countries, and another million were provided.

2007 floods


  • The monsoons came after a long, dry summer
  • Heavy rainfall- some regions received 169.5 mm in 24 hours
  • Growth of urban areas around the delta
  • Deforestation in the Himalayas
  • Peak discharge of the three rivers hit Bangladesh simultaneously.


  • 2000 people died
  • There was a lack of clean drinking water as wells became contaminated- 100,000 people contracted water born diseases
  • 25 million made homeless
  • 112,000 homes destroyed
  • 4,000 schools damaged
  • 44 schools destroyed
  • Flooding cost US$1 x 10^9 to repair
  • Factories around the delta were forced to shut and workers became unemployed
  • Widespread loss of cattle- 80% of the population rely on agriculture for income
  • 550,000 hectares of land could not be planted on. The worldwide price of rice rose by about 10%
  • Debt increased for individuals and the country. People lost jobs and the government was forced to import good and medicine, etc.

(Image Sources:



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