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Bangladesh: An Introduction

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banglocation.jpgBangladesh is one of the most flood prone countries in the world. It is situated in south Asian sub-continent. The country has an area of approximately 147,000 sq km with a population of about 130 million. It is one of the most densely populated country. A location map of Bangladesh is given in fig. 1. Because of its unique geographical location and topography, flood of different magnitudes and types occurs every year. During last 50 years at least 6 extreme flood events occurred affecting about 35-70% of land area. Economic loss due to the floods was huge, e.g. in two consecutive floods of 1987 and 1988 flood damage was estimated at US$ 2.2 billion and in 1998 flood damage was estimated at US$ 2.8 billion.

Human Life & Property

Flood disaster usually affects the poorer community and especially the most vulnerable group in the society, women and children. Disaster does not only mean fall in GDP but it forces the government to divert its limited resources towards relief and rehabilitation and reconstruction of damaged infrastructure. In the long run, sustainability of the economy, food security, and success of the government's poverty reduction initiatives becomes mainly poised on the issue of protecting human life and property from the flood disasters in Bangladesh.

River bank erosion is another major problem in Bangladesh. Nearly 10,000 ha of land is annually eroded through bank erosion. The land includes mainly croplands and homesteads. Such erosion increases landless people and thereby, poverty. Measures against river bank erosion is, therefore, essential for poverty prevention in the context of the national strategy of poverty reduction.

Bangladesh, being an agro-based country, its main objective is to increase food production. Flood control and irrigation are of prime importance towards achieving the objective of the food grain production to feed the increasing population.

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Country Profile

(Source: http://www.adpc.ait.ac.th/infores/country-bangla.html)
The Peoples Republic of Bangladesh as it is officially called is situated in Southern Asia bordering the Bay of Bengal, between Burma and India. Etymologically, the word Bangladesh is derived from the cognate VANGA, which literally means wetland. It occupies the delta where the rivers Ganga, Brahmaputra, Meghna, and their tributaries meet and drain into the Bay of Bengal. Such a wet environment creates arable land, and therefore the Bangladeshis are traditionally an agrarian economy. Its network of rivers and canals make it the largest riverine in the world. However the silt-laden, unstable land makes it vulnerable to frequent monsoons and floods. Formally known as East Pakistan, Bangladesh won independence after a brief war in 1971.

Physical Geography

(Source: http://www.bangladeshonline.com)
It lies between 20 34 and 26 39 latitude North and 88 00 and 92 41 longitude East. It has an area of 1,44,000 sq km. Bangladesh is situated on the north eastern side of the South Asian Subcontinent. Her long southern coastline along the Bay of Bengal shares the Indian Ocean with India and Burma. It is bordered on the West by the two Indian states of West Bengal and Bihar and on the East by Assam and Burma. On the North of Bangladesh lies Nepal, Sikkim and Bhutan and to their North sprawls the vast territories of Tibet in the People's Republic of China. In the South eastern corner, she has a common border with Burma. The plains of Bangladesh are watered by one of the most remarkable network of rivers in the world the important rivers being Padma, Meghna, Brahmaputra and Jamuna. The Hills, which are located in Sylhet and the Hill Tracts Districts, are mostly low hills covered with green forests.

Climate

(Source: http://www.bangladeshonline.com)
Bangladesh is hot and humid in summer and cool in winter. During the monsoon, it rains heavily-average rainfall being 1200 mm. The climate is characterized by moderately high temperature for about eight months in the year, maximum temperature in summer ranges between 30 C and 38 C, while the minimum during the winter is 9 C.

Population

(Source: http://www.bangladeshonline.com)
Bangladesh is one of the most densely populated areas of the world. The present population is about 140 million which makes it the eighth populous country of the world. The average density of population is about 1978 persons per square mile. The lowest density areas are the Hill Tracts Districts, a range of hills and thick forests and the Sundarbans with 76 persons per square mile. About 86.6 per cent of the total population is Muslims. The other segments of the population are the Hindus, the Buddhists and the Christians. In the Indo-Pakistan-Bangladesh Subcontinent, Bangladesh has the largest Buddhist population. DRESS Light woolen in winter and cotton clothes in summer. During monsoon one should be prepared for heavy rains and it is better to carry umbrella/rain-coat.

Economy

(Source: http://www.bangladeshonline.com)
The total cultivable area of Bangladesh is around 24 million acres and there are over 17.5 million cultivators. The principal crops are Jute (0.947 million ton), rice (178.5 million tons), wheat (1.00 million tons), tea (101.15 million pound), sugarcane (7.68 million tons) and tobacco (0.34 million tons), etc. GNP at constant factor cost is 810835.00 million taka, Per capita Income (GNP) at factor cost is 7220.00 taka.

Land use

(Source: World Factbook)
Arable land: 73%
Permanent crops: 2%
Permanent pastures: 5%
Forests and woodland: 15%
Other: 5%

Organizations involved in Flood Mitigation

  • Bangladesh Meteorological Department (BMD), Ministry of Defence

  • Hydrology, Bangladesh Water development Board (BWDB), Ministry of Water Resources

  • Disaster Management Bureau, Ministry of Disaster Management & Relief