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Cyclones and storm surges in Bangladesh: Some mitigative measures

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Bangladesh, with its repeated cycle of floods, cyclones, and storm surges, has proved to be one of the most disaster-prone areas of the world. During the years from 1797 to 1991, Bangladesh has been hit by 60 severe cyclones (mostly accompanied by storm surges). This paper gives a brief account of these disasters with particular reference to the wind speed, surge height, loss of life, and damage to crops and properties, etc.

In order to protect the coastal areas of Bangladesh from cyclonic storm surges and floods, a major system of embankments was constructed during the 1960s and 1970s, but this is now in need of rehabilitation. The Cyclone Protection Project, which was approved by the World Bank in 1989, would rehabilitate some of the existing embankments, build new embankments, and construct roads. Locally available materials, indigenous technology, and cheap surplus manpower should be used in this project. A variety of fruit trees should be planted along the dikes and roads.

To the south-western part of Bangladesh bordering the Bay of Bengal, lies the world's largest single mangrove tract, known as the Sunderban, which covers a total area of 571 500 ha. This mangrove forest is of extreme importance since it provides efficient protection to life and property against cyclones and storm surges. But due to deforestation, the width of the mangrove belt is being rapidly diminished. The author therefore lays emphasis on coastal afforestation.

Absolute security against cyclone hazard is probably out of the question, but an effective cyclone warning response can definitely reduce loss of life and damage to property. The author discusses the current conditions for cyclone forecasting and warning in Bangladesh, and then puts forward some proposals for improving the Cyclone Preparedness Programme.

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Khalil, G.M. Cyclones and storm surges in Bangladesh: Some mitigative measures. Nat Hazards 6, 11–24 (1992).

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