August 02, 2004


The flood situation in Bangladesh is improving as the sun is shining and the rainfall is less. After the full moon (blue moon) effect the sea level should fall letting the river water levels to recede below the danger limit.

Now the real challenge lies in keeping the flood effected out of health hazards/ epidemics and rehabilitating them. Nearly 5,000 medical teams have spread out across Bangladesh, many in boats, to try to contain diseases as flood waters continued to recede. There have been numerous efforts all over the country to feed the flood effected people who are in makeshift shelters (usually the govt. educational institutions). In my neighborhood there are two initiatives in one lane for collecting donations in terms of flour, salt, water, plates; which are being sent to the flood victims in the affected areas. There had been some controversies, when the govt. banned collecting money by stopping vehicles in the street in the name of flood relieve. The relief goods are still not adequate for the affected in the remote areas. Out of a requirement of 90 million water purifier tablets only 2.5 million tablets were supplied by the government sources.

The costs of this flood is reported close to $7 billions in losses to agriculture, industries and infrastructure; according to preliminary estimates. This is a huge blow to a poor country like Bangladesh. Assistance would be needed from other countries in repairing and rebuilding the infrastructures.

Some points to be kept in mind to prepare for the next flood:

1) Build embankments all around Dhaka and other major cities
2) Redesign and rebuild the sewerage system
3) Ensure better flood forecasting
4) Involve India & Nepal in managing the rivers
5) Dredge rivers and canals for fluent water flow
6) Stop encroaching the river embankments

The reality is that we cannot stop flooding, but we can reduce the damage.

Update: Dr. Nazrul Islam writes this interesting piece of article "Permanent solution to floods: But which way?" which endorses the "open up approach" , on which I have written recently.


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