Letter to the World Bank – What are the causes and effects of flooding in Bangladesh?

World bank,

My name is Corrina I am writing to make you take notice of the horrific times Bangladesh has to face. At least once a year they suffer from a serious flood, which have awful effects. They have a huge amount of crops ruined, which means no food for the hungry young children and the adults. Having no food maybe bad but seven million homes are damaged or totally destroyed. So means people in Bangladesh are made homeless. One flood causes 2,379 deaths. So people loose loved ones.

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After reading this I hope you offer Bangladesh help.

Bangladeshis is in Southeast Asia. Its latitude is between 20’34 and 26’39 and its longitude is between 88’00 and 92’41 east. It has a high population of 118.000.000 and an area of 144.000 sq km. This makes it one of the most densely populated countries in the world. It has a population density of 824 people per sq km. Bangladesh is boarded by India on the north, west, and east, Myarmer on the south-east, and the Bay of Bengal is to the south. The capital city is Dhaka, which is 1,400 km from India and roughly 600 km from Mandalay.

The 3 main rivers are the Ganges, the Jamuna, and Bramaputra. The Brahmaputra being in the north the river Ganges being northeast and the river Jamuna being in the centre of them all. Land is located on the delta of the Padma River. Bangladesh is a fertile plain where rice, tea and jute are grown. Tropical rainforests and swamps cover huge areas. The climate is mostly tropical monsoon with heavy rain from June to September, sometimes accompanied with a hurricane and heavy floods. The minerals there are low quality coal and natural gas.

The causes of flooding can be put into two categories ‘natural’ and ‘human’. The table below shows each cause and whether it is a natural cause or a human cause.

Natural

Human

Melting snow

Deforestation in Nepal and Tibet has most likely increased surface run off and added to deposition downstream.

Heavy rainfall this caused all three rivers to have their peak flow at the same time in years of normal floods the Brahmaputra peaks a month before the Ganges.

Poorly maintained embankments either leaked or just gave way gradually.

Flat land 80% of Bangladesh is a huge floodplain and delta this is why it floods so easily.

The building of embankments upstream has resulted in more of the discharge reaching the delta area.

River blocked means their channels are made shallower by the deposition of silt.

The river has been damned in India. This has reduced flow in the dry season and increased deposition. The silt now blocks the river channels.

High tides and storms this happened at the same time as the flood, which made it a lot worse.

Large areas of Bangladesh are flooded by extremely heavy monsoon rain falling on land.

The big problem that causes the flooding is the growth frequency of abnormal floods and the horrific effects that it has on the country. The build up silt carries on giving a mass amount to the flooding each year 2.5 billion tonnes of it is deposited in the delta area. Silt forms as the river erodes and breaks up rock and soil, it is then taken downstream by the river and left when the load is too much. This gradually blocks the channel and raises the river bed this causes the river to over flow its banks more easily. This is a natural process.

There is a wide amount of effects due to flooding. The electricity supply was cut off for several weeks and there was no safe drinking water because the wells were flooded and the water in them was polluted. Having no electricity meant no lights, heating, and other main essentials. Over seven million homes were ruined and twenty five million made homeless and having nowhere else to go. 2379 deaths but some of these could have just been reported missing. Causes of death were: drowning, diseases such as cholera, and snakebites.

There was then a lack of food and medicine. Two million tonnes of rice, 1/4 of normal crop yield was destroyed. Thousands of km’s of roads, 1/3 of railways and the international airport at Dhaka were flooded. Due to this there was no way of getting emergency food and medicine delivered to those who needed it. The area of land covered was 80% the depth of the water was two meters high. Other crops that were destroyed were jute, sugar cane and vegetable crops. 1/2 million cattle and poultry were lost. The storm surges were 7 metres high the air pressure rose the sea level dropped and a high tide and heavy winds appeared. All these 3 put together makes it bigger than the normal storm surge.

There are benefits of flooding, for farming. This is because the silt deposited by the rivers forms potentially the most creative agricultural land in the world. It has good soil, warm conditions throughout the year and plenty of rainfall. Farming in Bangladesh is very closely related to the environment, because of the seasonal flooding, fertile land, high rainfall and humidity.

Many of the people have different views towards flooding. Some see it as ‘ it happens in Bangladesh every year. Its part of the normal every day life for our people’ they say they have planned the country’s settlements, communications and land use to cope with in this situation. Others say ‘ abnormal floods can destroy our crops, buildings and roads, cause the displacement or evacuation of millions of people, and disrupt business, industry and public services. The overall cost of the 1988 flood was $ 1.1 billion.’

Other things it can do ‘ the embankments will trap rainwater and make the flooding worse’ ‘ dam construction could increase the build – up of silt and make flooding worse’ ‘ how can we provide solutions if we don’t really know the causes’ ‘ these plains are far too expensive’ ‘ the embankments will restrict river access for fishing people’ ‘ flood control systems may damage the environment’ ‘ flood shelters save lives but don’t help protect our property and livelihood’ ‘ up to half a million people will lose their land to reservoirs and embankments.’ No one sees anything good coming out of flooding unless you’re a farmer then you can have better fertile land for growing crops but what about their homes and families all people here really do acre about is their family and looking after them. They’re country is very poor they cant afford to prepare properly.

Flood management plans. One thing that they could build could be dams. They could build these so they could control river flow and also hold back any monsoon rainwater in the reservoirs. The water would then be used for irrigation and generating electricity. The cost would be more than �500 million. Another thing they could build is flood warning systems they will build 5000 flood shelters in the worse off areas. The advantage is they are cheap and easy to build and will provide safety for nearly everyone. It will help improve the flood forecasting system using satellite and computer technology. Another thing would be flood control; this would divide the land up into sections and control water flow through a system of channels by sluice gates and water pumps.

But before the monsoon water would be drained away. Or lastly they could build embankments these would be up to a height of seven metres, and more than 7500km of embankment is already in place, but repairs, heightening and new building would cost over $6 billion. This could stop flooding from river overflow. But problems of the flood action plan are that the embankments will trap rainwater and make flooding worse. Dam constructions could increase the build up of silt and make flooding worse. The plans could cost too much. The systems could damage the environment, and some state. Up to 1/2 a million people will lose their land to reservoirs and embankments. Trees can also reduce the risk of flood. The leaves intercept rainfall and so delay run – off to the river, then evapotranspiration reduces the amount of water reaching the river, roots delay through flow of water to the river and the finally roots take up water and so reduces the amount entering the river.

But yet some problems with the flood action plan. People said that human activities such as embankment construction, dam building and deforestation have increased the amount of silt being deposited and this means it added to the harshness of flooding. Some researchers claim Bangladesh results mostly from snowmelt and run – off in the Himalayans. The huge clearance of forest, increased run – off and erosion rates which caused more silt to be deposited downstream and resulted In higher levels of flooding.

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