Bangladesh Floods

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Bangladesh flood, 1998

What natural (physical) features of the Ganges-Brahmaputra drainage basin make Bangladesh vulnerable to river flooding each year? The deltas of the Ganges and Brahmaputra rivers in South Asia flood on a seasonal basis. The flooding keeps the soil fertile because the rivers deposit silt which forms fertile soil each year. Partly because of the flooding, it is one of the most densely populated areas of the world with millions of people in Nepal, Northern India and Bangladesh depending on the rivers and fertile soils for their livelihoods. The natural causes of the flood in Bangladesh are:

* Most of the country consists of a huge flood plain and delta. * 70 per cent of the total area is less than 1 meter above sea level. * 10 per cent of the land area is made up of Lakes and Rivers. * Snowmelt for the Himalayas takes place in late spring & summer. * Bangladesh experiences heavy monsoon rains, especially over the highlands. * Tropical storms bring heavy rains and coastal flooding. * The main cause was the above average & long period of heavy rain which caused all 3 rivers to have their peak flow at the same time. So the main cause was the long period of heavy rain, which caused that all 3 rivers have their peak flow at the same time. The monsoon rains cause rivers such as the Jamuna (Brahmaputra) and Padma (Ganges) to overflow their banks between July and mid-august. Most of Bangladesh’s 153 million inhabitants live on the floodplains of these rivers. For most of them, the seasonal flood is essential for their survival as it brings water in which to grow the main crops of rice and jute, as well as silt to fertilize their fields. In 1998, 68 per cent of the country was flooded, unprecedented in terms of both its magnitude and duration. (Fig 1.0)

How has human activity in the Ganges-Brahmaputra basin was increased the risk of damage from flooding? Bangladesh is one of the world’s most densely populated, and...
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