Compare the impact and responses to a major flood in an MEDC and LEDC
Depending on the location of a major flood can cause a variety of problems, some minor however some can be horrific. There are many factors which influence the impacts of a major flood, deciding whether it will be a short lived disaster with little long term damage or one which ruins the area and causes much long-term unrest with the population. In addition to this the responses and ability to solve and clear up the problem has a huge effect on damages. The severity of the flood largely depends on these factors and there is usually a clear divide the responses of an LEDC and a MEDC.
On the whole LEDC’s do not have the resource to respond to a flood in a good way and also it is probable that the area is more likely to be damaged greater than what an MEDC due to the quality of building and the poor infrastructure of the area. In 2000 the River Severn, UK, flooded on its path through the town of Shrewsbury which lies in the rivers drainage basin. The source of the Severn is found in the Welsh mountains, an area that receives above average rainfall for the UK.
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Due to this the Severn, in particularly the Shrewsbury area is historically known for its proneness to flooding. It is expected on average for there to be a major flood in the area once every 10years, however there had been no such flood for over 30years. The urban area of Shrewsbury is built on higher ground to the flood plain of the river so there have been no floods of any severity. Unfortunately between October and December 2000, 3 major floods were experienced in the area. On the short term this had a huge impact to the busy market town.
Access to the town centre was hampered as both the English Bridge and the Welsh Bridge into the town were flooded as well as some stretches of rail-way being submerged. Trade in the town was severely affected as many of the large car parks were under water, stopping people from shopping in the busiest commercial time of the year, the build up to Christmas. This had a huge economic impact, companies such as Marks and Spencer’s estimated nearly a i??1m loss in revenue. Not only this but businesses retailing food had to throw away larger amounts of stock that had been ruined by the water.
For small businesses on the long term the damage was so great they were forced to close down as they couldn’t pay for repairs and loss of stock. Nearly 400 homes were badly flooded leaving people homeless for a short period as some had to be evacuated. Short term responses to the floods included flood warnings being issued by the Environment Agency to warn people in the area of possible dangers. These were given out via local television and radio. The emergency services were used largely to aid in evacuating people from their homes and helping farmers move livestock onto higher ground away from danger.
In the town centre many shop keepers and residents were issued with sandbags to try and slow and divert water flow. Also boardwalks were setup in the town to try and make it possible for shopping and everyday life to continue as close to normal as possible. Long term responses consisted largely of the Environment Agency looking at the full length of the Severn and trying to find possible solutions to how the likeliness and the effects of a major flood could be reduced.
Overall the effects of the flood were not disastrous as good emergency services and resources allowed a quick clean up operation and helped in repairing most damages. In comparison to the Shrewsbury flood the 2004 flood of Bangladesh is very different as it is an LEDC. It lies on the delta of 3 large rivers, the Ganges, the Brahmaputra and the Maghna. Each of these has their source in the Himalayas therefore snowmelt adds largely to the discharge of the rivers in the spring season. The Bangladesh area also experiences a monsoon climate, which means it has a wet season between May and September.
During this season Bangladesh suffers from Cyclones that bring strong winds, intense precipitation and storm surges. All of these factors increase the discharge of the 3 rivers which regularly flood. The severity of the floods has been increased greatly through human influence. For example deforestation in he Himalayas has decreased interception and evapotranspiration therefore much more water is reaching the rivers. Being a LEDC it is extremely hard for any river management to take place as there is very little money and few resources available.
They rely heavily on foreign aid to provide them with funds to develop projects which can reduce the risks of floods and the likeliness of them of them occurring in the first place, however aid is not large and generally only given after a major incident has occurred, not before. During the major flooding of July and August 2004, 38% of the whole country was submerged; a lot of that land being agricultural, therefore lots of crop and the countries food was destroyed. Over 36million people were made homeless. Due to poor emergency services and medical care by mid-September around 800 people had died.
There was no access to clean water so water that was available was dirty and carried disease. The countries infrastructure was also crippled by the flood, many roads, bridges, railways and irrigation systems were damaged, preventing access to many areas which disabled many emergency services and aid from reaching people in need. The flood caused damages around $2. 2billion, a huge sum for a country which has an extremely low GDP. Both the poor and the wealthy were affected however the poorer population were hit harder as the poorer quality built homes were completely destroyed along with many possessions.
Many of the countries population are subsistence farmers so they were left helpless as their source of survival was destroyed. Four major environmental problems were caused by the floods, river bank erosion, soil erosion, water logging and contaminated water. Soil erosion was a severe problem long term as the flood water washed away nutrients in the soil which made it suitable for agriculture. The Bangladesh government helped short term by providing as much of the population as possible with rice, medicines, blankets and towels; the basic necessities to survive. In July 2004 the UN stepped in to help the country in devastation.
Aid from individual countries was distributed via the UN as a disaster management team. The population did not rely solely on this aid however and they worked strongly within their own communities to help rebuild each others homes using self help schemes. Successful long term responses are hard to come by for an LEDC as the lack of funds restricts any new developments. Foreign aid and a loan from the World Bank were used to put in place river management. In addition to this flood shelters and early warning systems have been set up which, if major floods reoccur, many lives could be saved.
Some of the money received was used to repair infrastructure, water resource management and education. Again all of these factors will save lives in the future. In conclusion a flood in an LEDC has much more disastrous impacts as the quality of infrastructure and response is far weaker. Only with the help of foreign aid can these disasters be improved and the impacts made to be less harmful. An MEDC however has the funds and the s general capability to control their rivers and prevent lots of damage being causes, whilst preventing loss of life also.