Natural hazards. Bangladesh Floods

2013 Bangladesh Floods

Natural hazards constitute processes involving the earth, water, and atmospheric processes that can cause destruction to people, environment, and property. Human settlements worsen the situation of the natural hazards especially people living in the plain lands, terraced places, areas weakened by flooding, faulting, and earthquakes. There are several examples of natural hazards that occur in the world such as flooding, earthquakes, landslides, erosion, volcanic eruptions, drought, tsunami, rural fires, and many others. Most of the natural hazards are in the developing countries here factors such human activities, political and economic factors contribute to their occurrences. One of the developing countries with many natural disasters is Bangladesh such as floods, storms, cyclones, drought, tornado, and landslides. The disasters have a severe effect on human beings, houses, and their essential resources. The major cause of the disasters is the geographical feature such as mountains and hills that border the country. Flooding is the major natural disaster in Bangladesh accelerated by the political, economic, cultural, and social setting of the country, but there are various ways of reducing the flooding especially at the community level.

Many floods have occurred in Bangladesh affecting several activities of the country each year as he countries location facilitate flooding. Flash floods are very common in the country especially in the hilly areas while monsoon floods occur during the monsoon season. The other types of floods affecting the country are the bank floods occurring in the rivers such as Brahmaputra, Meghna, and Ganges. Many foods have occurred in the country such as the 1842, 1871, 1892, 1987, 1988, 2004, 2010 and many others affecting the economic activities of the country. The 1987 floods that occurred in July and August affecting about 57,300 square kilometers or 40% of the land will form the basis of this discussion. The main cause of the flooding as the human activities in Himalayas Mountains as the inhabitants used vertical irrigation to water their crops. The main factors that led to the peoples’ vulnerability to the flooding are as discussed.

Economic factors

Some of the economic factors that contribute to flooding in the Bangladesh are the farming practices such as irrigation especially in the hilly areas. The flooding in 1988 as greatly influenced by the peoples’ irrigation methods in the Himalayas Mountains. Deforestation is also common as people clear land for farming leaving the area bare and prone to floods whenever it rains. The padding method of cultivation also contributes to the region’s flooding as the farmers dig tunnels connecting rivers to their farms that are flat. Grazing also contributes to the land degradation in the region, which in turn results to flash floods when it rains due to the absence of vegetation cover. Deforestation and other human activities lead to soil erosion and landslides. Irrigation in Ganges results to the removal of the top soil, which in turn speeds up the rate of flooding.

Cultural factors

There are some cultural practices that may contribute to the flooding in the Bangladesh especially the one that occurred in 1988. The type of food eaten influences the farming method that contributes to flooding especially in the flat areas. Bangladesh food mainly composes of rice that requires flood irrigation from the rivers to the rice pads. Irrigation is a major cause of flooding in the country especially flash floods. Meat from goats and cows constitute another type of food especially during festivals, and their rearing may cause land degradation as people clear forests to create grazing lands. Some religious, cultural values restrict the use of modern family planning methods especially in the rural areas where the level of education for women is low. This culture contributes to high population, and people have to clear lands for settlement and agricultural activities. Forest clearing results to soil erosion and eventually to flooding when it rains. The existence of extended families in the rural areas leads to the formation of settlements to accommodate the large families. The families clear vegetated areas to create a space for their settlements, which can contribute to flooding when it rains.

Social factors

The Bangladesh Society is organized in groups of homes in the villages known as Paras that require bigger lands for building houses leading to clearing of forests to create areas for settlements. The society allows men to have more than one life, which contribute to the high population in the region and pressure on the available resources. Urbanization is a major cause of flooding especially the tarmacking of roads and concrete laying and impermeable substances contribute to the surface runoffs to the nearby rivers. The rivers overflow and cause flooding to the nearby lands. Urbanization leads to deforestation reducing vegetation and increase runoff to rivers and water sources. As people try to stop streets’ flooding, they drain it to the rivers again increased their volumes that can lead to ton flooding.

Political factors

Politics can affect the actions before, during, or after the flood disaster to find out the risk factors and the type of intervention for the disaster. The reoccurrence of the disaster depends on the political response to the previous one and may result in a more serious one if necessary steps are not taken. Politicians are the lawmakers and determine the action to be taken to prevent or reduce the magnitude of the occurrence of the floods. The Bangladesh government coordination with local NGOs rather than foreign groups during the floods reduced the amount of financial aid for preventing more floods. The amount of funds allocated to disaster management can worsen the situation for instance if the funds are not enough, the projects for reducing the effects might not be accomplished. The government collaboration with the other nations such as the US can improve flood management and rescue efforts for its citizens. Government projects such as building good roads, dams, and community education on environmental conservation by the communities reduce the rate of flooding.

Solutions to the flooding disaster

One way of minimizing flooding in Bangladesh is building improved canals to drain water than cause a lot of flooding in the region. The canals will help in draining rainwater especially around homes and villages. Draining channels along the urban centres and tarmacked roads can also stop flooding in turns and cities. However, the drained water should not be directed to nearby rivers as they result to more flooding in the rural areas. The authorities should create water collection tanks and dams to drain the rainwater whenever it rains. The after can be put into proper use during the dry season. Other practical solutions are the construction of flood proof sheds for animals and houses that can withstand the force of the floods. The huge embankment along the rivers and coasts helps prevent flooding when the rivers swell by providing the capacity of the river to hold more water. Dams along the rivers ill help in holding the excessive water longer to minimize flooding of the nearby lands.

Another solution for flooding in Bangladesh is raising plinths of the communities’ houses and animal sheds five feet above the estimated flood level. The use of NGOs can help in financing such projects in the rural communities who are very poor and marginalized. Plinths can also protect crops from damage by planting them on raised plinths. Buildings bridges and roads to a higher standard, which can tolerate the force of the water during floods and prevent the floods from sweeping them away. Building of flood defenses and educating people on their maintenance for them to last longer and stop flooding. He government and the department of geosciences should improve the prediction technologies and on people of impending flooding early enough to prevent loss of lives.

The community should receive education on the appropriate methods of farming and environmental conservation to reduce climatic change. Agricultural activities such as irrigation could be done in a safer way by using pipes to deliver after to rice pads rather than using channels. Another cause for concern is the high population and the social organization of the local communities of Bangladesh, who oppose contraceptive use. High population causes land degradation through deforestation and agricultural activities resulting in more erosion and flooding. The community should receive education on the importance of environmental conservation and family planning to help reduce pressure on land. Improvement of communication to the local communities through using phones, radios, and televisions will help the people receive flood warnings from the government authorities. The community should plant trees to help intercept flood water and reduce its effect on the settlements and farms.

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