Delft, The Netherlands, 27 Sep 2017

Monsoon driven floods in Bangladesh

The last few weeks have seen disasters in different parts of the world involving flooding, hurricanes and earthquakes. The impact has devastated thousands of lives and livelihoods. IHE Delft wishes to express its sympathy and support to all those involved. To highlight the impact of water related disasters, as well as some of the practical work that the Institute is doing, we will be publishing a series of articles about some of the affected regions.This second article focuses on Bangladesh, a country that is flooded annually.

The recent monsoon-driven floods in south Asia severely impact food security of Bangladesh. Early arrival of this year's flash floods in the northeast and monsoon floods in the northwest destroyed the harvest of the majority of the rice-paddy fields of the country, depriving Bangladesh of nearly 1/6thof its total rice production. Furthermore, dike breaches and overtopping of rivers in the vast river delta of Bangladesh, caused flooding of many towns and villages and extensive damage to Bangladesh’s infrastructure, such as roads and bridges. Nevertheless, given the severity of the floods, the impacts in terms of fatalities were significantly smaller than those from similar floods decades ago. This suggests that the preparedness of Bangladeshis to floods has increased. 

Professor Chris Zevenbergen, William Veerbeek and Dr. Assela Pathirana from the Flood Resilience chair group are currently involved in projects in Bangladesh, to accelerate the trend towards lower flood impacts. They do this by introducing and implementing innovative yet locally adapted flood proofing technologies in the NWO-funded CORE Bangladesh projects. They are also involved in an initiative spearheaded by Dr. Aby Syed of the Bangladesh Centre for Advanced Studies, to upscale flood resilient housing in villages in Rangpur, which have been destroyed by the recent floods (see pictures). On a more strategic level, they are working to empower all water-related agencies to adopt Bangladesh’s new long term water policy: the Bangladesh Delta Plan 2100. In the NICHE-funded project DeltaCAP, a “train-the-trainers” programme on adaptive delta management is being developed, which should be disseminated to water professionals all over Bangladesh. Projects like these should further prepare Bangladesh for the many water challenges in the future.

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