Impacts of flood on the lives and livelyhoods of people in Bangladesh: A case study of a village in Manikganj district
AuthorRahman, Saleh Ur
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Water induced disaster including flood accounts over 30% of total losses of lives due to natural disaster in Bangladesh. On one hand, spatial variation on geography over short reaches, young and complex geology, and uneven temporal distribution of rainfall contribute significantly to the occurrences of such water induced hazards, Exposure to such hazards and vulnerabilities of people mainly due to poverty, and lack of well preparedness explain the escalating loss of lives and property. The present comprehensive study investigates the impacts of flood on the life and livelihoods of the affected area. The objectives of the study are to assess the situation, the history, the causes, aggravating factors, extent and effects of the flood, to document the hazard and vulnerability, and various capacities of the community; to study the local knowledge, practices and beliefs in the community; to formulate community based plans for flood mitigation and flood disaster risk reduction. Findings of this phase of study are aimed to be used as input to second phase when a broader framework of community impacts analysis conducted. The study found that there are several causes of flood hazards. They are: construction of infrastructure such as roads, culverts. Without assessing the monsoon flood, narrow drainage capacity of the haphazard channel excavation for irrigation due to the absence of proper irrigation canal system, and poor drainage due to dense settlements. Flood is found to be a recurrent phenomenon in the study area. In 2000 and 2004 floods have made some devastating impact on the study area. These flood events were unique in a sense that the floods were mainly due to the heavy precipitation in the Padma belt. The flood has damaged the physical infrastructures like houses, schools, sub‐health post, hand pumps, culvert etc. as well as productive agriculture land, and livestock. Floods have caused difficulty in mobility, increased risk for living at houses, trends of fear and trauma, and erosion of social assets such as neighborhood, brotherhood and strong bondage of kinship. Likewise, damage of stored grain and spread of water borne diseases are other distresses. Increased health hazards, increased investment in treatment and farming, increase in price of seed, less return from animal husbandry, poor performance of social institutions, changes in cropping pattern and reduction in the crop production are immediate impacts of flood on the livelihood of farmers. Flood forecasting, early warning system and community based flood management save many lives and properties. People shared with me some of the indicators that forecast flood and those indicators are: position of the cloud in the sky, extent of rainfall in upper catchments and char area, mobility of ants, abnormal fly bite, abnormal crying/voices of animals and birds, intensity of thunderstorm and wind, position of stars, and magnitude of hotness. Strange sounds from river/torrents, muddy smell in the water, rising level of water flow are some indicators perceived as early warning of flood.