Flood Control and Watershed Management Systems in Bangladesh

Flood effected area in Bangladesh
Source: UNICEF

Happy Khatun

Flood is a natural disaster, and it is an overflow of water that submerges land that is usually dry. Flooding may occur overflow of water from water bodies, such as a river, lake, or oceans, in which the water overtops or breaks levees, resulting in some of that water escaping usually its boundaries. Bangladesh experience four types of floods, flash floods, riverine floods, rain floods, and storm floods. The country consists of the flood plains of the Ganges, the Brahmaputra, and the Meghna River, are generating a basin named GBM, which cover almost of the area of this country and drained the huge runoff through this three river system. Flash flood occurs in the northern and eastern rivers. Riverine floods from the spilling of Major River and tributaries and it’s generally rise and fall slowly over 10-20 days or more. It can cause extensive damage to property and loss of life. Storm surge floods occur in coastal areas of Bangladesh. Which consists of large estuaries, extensive tidal, and low lying islands. River floods occurred by high intensity rainfall of long duration in the monsoon season. From year to year, the extent and depth of rain water flooding varies with the monsoon.

Normal floods are the important in the economy and peoples life. Peoples of rural and urban areas of Bangladesh have adapted to changes introduced in normal floods. Bangladesh is the recognized as one of the most vulnerable countries to flood disasters in the world.

Source: Banglapedia

Floods in Bangladesh are both a blessing and a curse. Flooding is the most common disasters in our Bangladesh and it is the most economically damaging and devastating natural hazard. In every year, Bangladesh affected in different kinds of floods. There is no doubt that flood is a major threats for the inhabitants of marginal settlements. In the flood seasons, slum areas people and the floods of Bangladesh of 1954, 1955, 1963, 1974, 1987, 1988, 1998, 2004, and 2007, all caused enormous damages to properties and considerable loss of life. This flood damage to standing crops, livestock, poultry, houses, transportation. Communication systems, educational and institutional buildings and other social and economic facilities. In 1988, the floods are the dangerous for all category of peoples. This flood are affected in Bangladesh in long time period and flooding resulting from hydro and meteorological events. The floods of 1987, 1988, 1998, 2004, 2007 flood caused heavy damage in Bangladesh and suffered more deaths per flood event during the time period from 1971 to 2014. 

During the flood season, people are always afraid. Bangladesh is recognized as one of the most vulnerable of flood disasters of the whole world. Flood causes destruction of country’s physical and social infrastructure, transport network, assets of crop production, loss of lives, domestic animals, fields, loss of house and shelters etc. It’s not only the social lives of the people but also the economy as a whole.

During 1972 to 2013, floods 15,033 people died from flooding in the Bangladesh and average facilities resulting in 358 per year. The major impact of flood is death caused by drowning water-borne disease, diarrhea, and snakebites.

In Bangladesh, flood management process is not sustainable and proper. The incident year to year the several methods and systems are used for all flood management. In incident period to colonial period the flood management limited to the embankment. The first master plan developed in 1964 and started coastal embankment projects, 1968 as a result of Krug Mission. The national scale of Flood Control and Drainage (FCD) project has been taken and this FCD project continue till as creation of Flood Action Programme (FAP) but This method of flood management was not proper and sustainable for Bangladesh thus this can’t help in flood management and we see the more devastating flood after the existing of embankment.

Major positive outcomes initiative including the formulation of guidelines of precipitation, environmental impact assessment, better understanding of flood management and effect of flood control and drainage, on fisheries has been formed and changed the flood management paradigm to more focused on pre-disasters flood preparedness rather than the post disasters flood management as relief and rehabilitation. The several law act and policy developed this time Bangladesh Government has already finalized Flood Management Strategy in1995, National Water Policy in 1998, and National Water Management Plan in 2004.

Mainly two types of flood management in Bangladesh, one are structural and another one is non-structural flood management. Flood Embankment, Channel Improvement, River Training, Coastal Embankment etc. are the structural flood management, it’s also called the engineering structure. Flood Proofing, Disaster Preparedness and Response Planning Flood Forecasting and Early Warning, Flood Plain Zoning and Management, Policies for infrastructure, Planning and Development in the flood plains are the non-structural flood  options.

In flood-prone areas, preventive measures should be taken to reduce possible adverse effect of floods on aquatic and terrestrial ecosystems, water and soil pollution. Flood forecasting and warning is a prerequisite for successful mitigation of flood damage. Its effectiveness depends on the level of preparedness and correct response. Therefore the responsible authorities should provide timely and reliable flood warning, flood forecasting and information. The effectiveness of the best practices describe in above part depends on among other hydrological and environmental circumstances.

The control of natural hazards is part of watershed management. A watershed is the geographical area drained by a water course. Watershed approaches in floodplain management, however, require conditional time, cost, and effort, to pursue. Major floods, local flash floods, or regionally extensive major floods, present a significant challenges to watershed management. Management challenges the appropriate role and approaches to flood ‘control’ effects of land use modification and floodplain regulations.

Runoff from rainwater or snowmelt can contribute significant amounts of pollution in the lake or river. Watershed management helps to control pollution of water and other natural resources watershed by identifying and how much different kinds of pollution present in watershed. Watershed management practices to protect the water quality. Management of environment primarily focused on some specific issues, such as, air, water, remediation of waste sites, contaminated groundwater, improved landfills, protection of rare and endangered species, design of best management practices to improve water and contaminated runoff. Watershed management system exists in point source pollution and non-point source pollution. Problems Management must come together to better understand the interactions between the environmental components and actions that can be taken by all towards the goal of ecosystem integrity.

Watershed management is an important aspects of creating and implementing plans, programs, and projects to sustain and enhance the watershed functions that affect the plant, animals, and human communities within a watershed boundary. Watershed ecology primarily discusses the biotic and abiotic components. Forests and tree play a crucial roles in hydrological processes in watersheds.

Watershed management is also important because the planning process results in a partnership among all affected parties in the watershed. Watershed boundaries not coincide with political boundaries. Watershed management the adoption of sustainable land and water management practices and encourages investment in better land husbandry. Efforts to improve efficiency in the use of natural resources, water are required to reduce pressures on the resource base and to restore the health and quality of freshwater ecosystems. In comprehensive planning, for the resources the entire watershed, with participation and commitment from all municipalities in the watershed, is critical to protecting the health of the watershed resources.

Flood control and watershed management is the most important topics in flooded area. Watershed management to protect, and conserve, and improve the land of watershed for more efficient and sustained production. Enhance water resource originating in the watershed and moderate the flood peaks at downstream areas.

Author is a Student of Environmental Science and Engineering at Jatiya Kabi Kazi Nazrul Islam University, Thishal, Mymensingh-2224, Bangladesh Email: happynu52@gmail.com

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