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Geography

River flooding and management issues

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LEDC case study: coping with flooding in Bangladesh

Bangladesh is an LEDC. The land is densely populated. Most of the land forms a delta from three main rivers - Ganges, Brahmaputra and Meghna - and 25 per cent of Bangladesh is less than 1 m above sea level. Flooding is an annual event as the rivers burst their banks. This seasonal flooding is beneficial as it provides water for the rice and jute (two main crops in the area) it also helps to keep the soil fertile. Bangladesh also experiences many tropical cyclones [tropical storm: A low pressure system in the tropical latitudes which has high winds and rainfall. Can be called a cyclone or hurricane. ]. The low-lying land means it is easily flooded. Half the country is less than 6m above sea level. The snowmelt in the Himalayas adds water into the main rivers. There are human causes too - building on the floodplains and cutting down trees both increase the effects of flooding.

Map of Bangladesh, between India and Burma

There are advantages to living here:

Rice farmer in Bangladesh

Rice farmer in Bangladesh

  • The flat floodplains of the delta are very fertile [fertile: A soil which is rich in nutrients. ]. Rice is grown.
  • The area can also be used for shrimp farming.

There are disadvantages too:

  • The low-lying islands are very vulnerable and flood easily. It is difficult to protect them.
  • There are poor communications. Many locals do not own their own telephone or television so it is difficult to give successful flood warnings.

How can the risk of flooding be reduced?

Bangladesh is an LEDC and therefore does not have money to implement large schemes.

It is always going to be threatened with flooding, so the focus is on reducing the impact.

The Flood Action Plan is funded by the world bank. It funds projects to monitor flood levels and construct flood banks/artificial levees [levee: Ridges or banks formed by deposits of alluvium left behind by the periodic flooding of rivers. Can also be artificially constructed banks or walls. ].

More sustainable ways of reducing the flooding include building coastal flood shelters on stilts and early-warning systems.

House on stilts

House on stilts, on low lying land

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