Skip to main content

Flood problems in Bangladesh: Is there an indigenous solution?

Abstract

Bangladesh, situated on the delta of the Ganges, the Brahmaputra, and the Meghna rivers, experiences two distinct types of inundations: (a) river floods resulting from excessive runoff contributed by monsoon precipitation and (b) coastal floods induced by storm surges of tropical cyclones. The river floods are normal annual events and human settlements and agricultural practices have adapted admirably well to their regimes. Abnormal floods that occur once in every few years cause serious damage to crops and properties. To minimize flood losses, a number of modern engineering projects have been constructed within Bangladesh. However, the successful solution of the problem would probably require some international collaboration for basinwide unified systems planning, since large parts of the drainage basins of Bangladesh lie beyond its borders. In the absence of such collaboration, internal resources should be utilized for the construction of smaller public projects, such aspolders, and for encouraging and reinforcing various types of indigenous adjustments to floods. There are very few successful indigenous adjustments to coastal floods. Most of the structural solutions, such as community shelters and higher embankments, are expensive public projects that are probably beyond the means of the internal resources of the country.

This is a preview of subscription content, access via your institution.

Literature cited

  1. Abbas, B. M. 1963. Utilization and development of the deltaic area of East Pakistan. In: Proceedings of the regional symposium on flood control, reclamation, utilization and development of deltaic area. United Nations Water Resources Series no. 25, pp. 133–151.

    Google Scholar 

  2. Ahmad, K. U. 1972. Breakup of Pakistan. Social Science Publishers, London, 147 pp.

    Google Scholar 

  3. Ahmad, N. 1976. A new economic geography of Bangladesh. Vikas Publishing House, New Delhi, 249 pp.

    Google Scholar 

  4. Bangladesh Bureau of Statistics. 1980. The year book of agriculture statistics of Bangladesh. Ministry of Planning, Dhaka, Bangladesh.

    Google Scholar 

  5. Barry, R. G., and R. J. Chorley. 1981. Atmosphere, weather and climate, 4th edn. Methuen, London, 407 pp.

    Google Scholar 

  6. Coleman, J. M. 1969. Brahmaputra River: channel processes and sedimentation.Sedimentary Geology 3:129–239.

    Google Scholar 

  7. Faaland, J., and J. R. Parkinson. 1976. Bangladesh: the test case of development. Westview Press, Boulder, Colorado, 203 pp.

    Google Scholar 

  8. Frank, N. I., and S. A. Husain. 1971. The deadliest tropical cyclone in history?Bulletin of the American Meteorological Society 52:438–444.

    Google Scholar 

  9. Galay, V.J. 1980. River channel shifting on large rivers in Bangladesh. In: Proceedings of the international symposium on river sedimentation, Beijing, March 1980, pp. 543–564.

  10. Haq, S. 1963. Development of the coastal region of East Pakistan by embankment. In: Proceedings of the regional symposium on flood control, reclamation, utilization and development of deltaic areas. United Nations Water Resources Series no. 25, pp. 152–159.

  11. Haq, S. 1982. Delta development of Bangladesh. In: Papers, international symposium on polders of the world, Lelystad, October 1982, pp. 296–305.

  12. Inglis, C. C. 1949. The behaviour and control of rivers and canals. Central Waterpower Irrigation and Navigation Research Station, Poona.

    Google Scholar 

  13. International Engineering Company. 1964. East Pakistan Water and Power Development Authority Master Plan (2 vols). San Francisco, California.

  14. Islam, M. A. 1971a. Cyclone hazard and the strategy of human occupance in the coastal areas of Bangladesh.Oriental Geographer 15:37–45.

    Google Scholar 

  15. Islam, M. A. 1971b. Human adjustment to cyclone hazards: a case study of Char Jabbar. Natural Hazards Research Working Paper no. 18, Department of Geography, University of Toronto, Toronto, Ontario, Canada.

    Google Scholar 

  16. Islam, M. A. 1974. Tropical cyclones: coastal Bangladesh. Pages 19–25in G. F. White (ed.), Natural hazards: local, national, global. Oxford University Press, New York.

    Google Scholar 

  17. Islam, M. A. 1980. Agricultural adjustments to flooding in Bangladesh: a preliminary report.National Geographical Journal of India 26:50–59.

    Google Scholar 

  18. Islam, M. A., and A. A. Khan. 1975. Coastal flooding and choice of adjustments in Bangladesh. Paper presented at Commonwealth Geographical Bureau, Southeast Asian Seminar, Singapore, 26–30 May, 1975.

  19. Islam, M. A., and H. Kunreuther. 1973. The challenge of long-term recovery from natural disasters: implications for Bangladesh.Oriental Geographer 17:51–63.

    Google Scholar 

  20. Johnson, B. L. C. 1958. Crop association regions in East Pakistan.Geography 43:86–103.

    Google Scholar 

  21. Johnson, B. L. C. 1982. Bangladesh, 2nd edn. Heinemann Educational Books, London, 133 pp.

    Google Scholar 

  22. Khan, A. A. 1973. Hazard perception and choice of adjustments in the Chittagong coastal areas. Unpublished MA thesis, University of Dhaka, Bangladesh.

    Google Scholar 

  23. Khan, A. R. 1972. The economy of Bangladesh. Macmillan-St. Martin's, London, 196 pp.

    Google Scholar 

  24. Khan, H. R. 1981. Irrigation water pricing in Bangladesh. In: Proceedings of the expert group meeting on water pricing. United Nations Water Resources Series no. 55, pp. 55–66.

    Google Scholar 

  25. Kibria, A. M. M. G. 1980. Protection of Bangladesh against cyclone generated storm surges. In: Proceedings, international engineering conference for protection from natural disasters, Bangkok, January 1980, pp. 759–769.

  26. Latif, A. 1963. Water resources development in East Pakistan. In: Proceedings of the fifth regional conference on water resources development in Asia and the Far East. United Nations Water Resources Series no. 23, pp. 101–110.

    Google Scholar 

  27. Leopold, L. B., and T. Maddock. 1954. The flood control controversy. Ronald, New York, 278 pp.

    Google Scholar 

  28. Linsley, R. K., Jr., M. A. Kohler, and J. L. H. Paulhus. 1982. Hydrology for engineers, 3rd edn. McGraw-Hill, New York, 508 pp.

    Google Scholar 

  29. Morgan, J. P., and W. G. McIntyre. 1959. Quaternary geology of the Bengal Basin, East Pakistan and India.Bulletin of the Geological Society of America 70:319–342.

    Google Scholar 

  30. Murphy, F. C. 1958. Regulating flood-plain development. Department of Geography Research Paper no. 56, University of Chicago, Illinois, 204 pp.

    Google Scholar 

  31. Nunnally, N. R., and F. D. Shields. 1985. Incorporation of environmental features in flood control channel projects. Technical Report E-85-3, US Army Engineer Waterways Experiment Station, Vicksburg, Mississippi, 232 pp.

    Google Scholar 

  32. Paul, B. K. 1984. Perception and agricultural adjustments to floods in Jamuna floodplain, Bangladesh.Human Ecology 12:3–19.

    Google Scholar 

  33. Rahman, A. H. H. 1969. Floodplain morphology of the Meghna.Oriental Geographer 13:127–138.

    Google Scholar 

  34. Rahman, M. A. 1985. The existing situation and future trend of energy and water resources development in Bangladesh: water as a factor in energy resources development. United Nations Water Resources Series no. 60, pp. 41–43.

    Google Scholar 

  35. Ralph, K. A. 1975. Perception and adjustment to flood in the Meghna flood plain. Unpublished MA thesis, University of Hawaii, Honolulu, Hawaii.

    Google Scholar 

  36. Ramage, C. S. 1959. Hurricane development.Journal of Meteorology 16:227–237.

    Google Scholar 

  37. Rasid, H. 1965. Agricultural occupance in the Jamuna flood plain in the district of Mymensingh. Unpublished MA thesis, University of Dhaka, Bangladesh.

    Google Scholar 

  38. Rasid, H. 1966. Morphology of the Jamuna flood plains.Oriental Geographer 10:57–72.

    Google Scholar 

  39. Riehl, H. 1954. Tropical meteorology. McGraw-Hill, New York, 392 pp.

    Google Scholar 

  40. Rizvi, A. I. H. 1955. Comparative physiography of the lower Ganges and lower Mississippi valleys. Unpublished PhD dissertation, Louisiana State University, Baton Rouge, Louisiana.

    Google Scholar 

  41. Smith, E. C. 1981. Closure of tidal channels in Bangladesh (II).Land + Water International 44:8–18.

    Google Scholar 

  42. Tarafder, M. R. 1975. Review of water resources development in some countries of the region: Bangladesh. In: Proceedings of the first session of the committee on natural resources (11th session of the regional conference on water resource development in Asia and the Pacific). United Nations Water Resources Series no. 46, pp. 102–109.

    Google Scholar 

  43. Tarafder, M. R. 1976. Social and non-economic factors in water resources development in Bangladesh. In: Proceedings of the symposium on social and non-economic factors in water resources development. United Nations Water Resources Series no. 47, pp. 80–88.

    Google Scholar 

  44. Tarafder, M. R. 1978. Development of water resources in the deltaic areas of Bangladesh. In: Proceedings of the third regional symposium on the development of deltaic areas. United Nations Water Resources Series no. 50, pp. 162–169.

    Google Scholar 

  45. United Nations. 1969. Proceedings of the second symposium on the development of deltaic areas. United Nations Water Resources Series no. 39.

  46. United Nations 1972. Water resource project planning. United Nations Water Resources Series no. 41.

  47. United Nations. 1978. Proceedings of the fourth session of the committee on natural resources. United Nations Water Resources Series no. 48, pp. 90–93.

    Google Scholar 

  48. United Nations. 1981. Proceedings of the seventh session of the committee on natural resources. United Nations Water Resources Series no. 54.

  49. United Nations. 1984. Proceedings of the seminars on flood vulnerability analysis and on the principles of flood plain management for flood loss prevention. United Nations Water Resources Series no. 58.

  50. Wadia, D. N. 1953. Geology of India. Macmillan, London, 460 pp.

    Google Scholar 

  51. Whipple, W., N. S. Grigg, T. Grizzard, C. W. Randall, R. P. Shubinski, and L. S. Tucker. 1983. Stormwater management in urbanizing areas. Prentice-Hall, Englewood Cliffs, New Jersey, 234 pp.

    Google Scholar 

  52. White, G. F. (ed.). 1974. Natural hazards: local, national, global. Oxford University Press, New York, 288 pp.

    Google Scholar 

Download references

Author information

Affiliations

Authors

Rights and permissions

Reprints and Permissions

About this article

Cite this article

Rasid, H., Paul, B.K. Flood problems in Bangladesh: Is there an indigenous solution?. Environmental Management 11, 155–173 (1987). https://doi.org/10.1007/BF01867195

Download citation

Key words

  • International drainage basins
  • Floodplains
  • Normal floods
  • Abnormal floods
  • Coastal floods
  • Engineering flood control
  • Indigenous adjustments