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The Impact of Climate Change on Floods in Bangladesh by City Tech Blogger Lais Uddin

Bangladesh is positioned in the tropical region and is one of the most climate vulnerable countries in the world. The country is exposed to a range of river and rainwater flood hazards due to climate variability, timing, and location. Its structure is extremely low and flat, with two-thirds of its land area less than 5 meters above sea level.  Low-lying coastal regions like the Bay of Bengal are predominantly susceptible to tidal flooding, cyclones, and related storm flows. However, it is found by several pieces of research that by the end of the century, Bangladesh may be set to disappear under the waves. Both the government and non-governmental authorities have a key role to play. This study focuses on the biggest threat of climate change in Bangladesh which are floods and their effects in the country.

Bangladesh is largely agricultural with two-thirds of the population engaged in farming or agro-based industrial activity. The country’s climate can be characterized by high temperatures, heavy rainfall, high humidity, and compromised of three seasonal variations which are hot summer, shrinking winter, and the rainy season. Climate change is identified as an average weather condition of an area characterized by its own internal dynamics and by changes in external factors that affect climate (Trewartha et al., 1980). The United Nations Framework Convention on  Climate Change defines  climate  change  as  the  change  resulting  from  long  term direct and indirect activities that induce changes in the compared time which are much more than the  natural change (Daily Star, 2011). On the other hand, the weather is a set of all the phenomena occurring in a given atmosphere at a given time.

Bangladesh experiences different types of natural disasters almost every year due to climate change. Among them, floods, storms, sea level rise, and heat waves are significant. However, flooding is the biggest consequence of climate change in Bangladesh. Flooding is by nature a complex event caused by climate variability and a range of human activities, including inappropriate development planning. It is a repeated phenomenon in Bangladesh and often has been within the endurable limits but sometimes it becomes devastating.

Each year in Bangladesh about 26,000 square kilometers or 18% of the country is drowned due to flooding. During severe floods, the affected area can exceed up to 55% or more of the total area of the country. In an average year, 844,000 million cubic meters of water flows into the country during the humid period between May and October through the three main rivers the Ganges, the Brahmaputra-Jamuna, and the Meghna. Flooding during the monsoon season kills hundreds of people each year while others become homeless and lose their valuables. It destroys crops, washes away houses, and badly damages the infrastructure of the country. The after effects are also very dangerous. The prices of daily needed commodities increases significantly, affected areas become muddy and very unhealthy while diseases like cholera, dysentery, and typhoid may break out in epidemic form due to it, and the environment gets spoiled by rubbish and rotten things even leaving a bad odor in the environment. Sometimes communication systems, infrastructure, and superstructures are destroyed and is a huge cost to the government. Besides the above-mentioned consequences of flooding, it offers some blessings to the community. It washes away dirt and dust from the environment, flood water carries a great amount of silt on lands and thus the lands become fertile, and also maintains an ecological balance of the environment.

The government of Bangladesh always takes prompt actions such as sending relief or rehabilitating affected people. Numerous local and foreign non-governmental organizations also come forward to help those affected. Structural solutions such as embankments along rivers, dams, drains, reservoirs, and other structures are designed to control the natural flow of rivers. The United Nations Development Program and the government of Bangladesh have outlined a plan for flood control in Bangladesh (GOB and UNDP, 1989; Boyce, 1990; McDonalds, 1991). The basic requirement for formulating a solution to the flood problem is an understanding of the underlying geologic processes that cause floods. Flooding in Bangladesh is a part of the overall climate changing process active in the entire region. Only solutions that are in harmony with the natural processes can prevail.




  1. Singh, O.P. 2001. Cause-effect between sea surface temperature, precipitation and sea level along the Bangladesh coast. Theoretical and Applied Climatology. 68. 233-243.
  2. Islam, S.M.R., Huq, S., & Ali, A. 1999. Beach Erosion in the Eastern Coastline of Bangladesh. Vulnerability and Adaptation to Climate Change for Bangladesh. Eds. Huq, S., Karim, Z., Asaduzzaman, M., & Mahtab. Dordrecht/Boston/London : Kluwer Academic Publishers. 71 – 92.
  3. Hossen, M. 2002. Air Pollution. In: Bangladesh Environment: Facing the 21st Century. (2nd ed.) Ed. Gain, P. Dhaka : Society for Environment and Human Development (SEHD). 204 –213.
  4. Habib, N. 2006. Position Paper. Dhaka : Network on Climate Change, Bangladesh (NCC, B). 5.
  5. Field Group 4. 2007. Site Visit 4: Salinity and Cyclone Vulnerable Area Of Shyamnagar Area under Satkhira District Of Bangladesh. 2 nd International Workshop on Community Based Adaptation to Climate Change. Organised by: Bangladesh Centre for Advanced Studies, IIED & The Ring. Radission Water Garden Hotel, Dhaka, 24th – 28th February, 2007.
  6. 2005a. Global Warming and the poor. (Factsheet). Washington DC, USA : Evangelical Environmental Network.
  7. EM-DAT: The OFDA/CRED International Disaster Database http://www.em-dat.net Université Catholique de Louvain – Brussels – Belgium, 2011.
  8. Miah, M. M. : Flood in Bangladesh, A Hydromorphological Study of the 1987 Flood, Ministry of Food, Bangladesh, 1988.
  9. Mohal, N., Khan, Z. H. and Rahman, N.: Impact of Sea level Rise on Coastal Rivers of Bangladesh, 9th International River Symposium, Melbourne, Australia, 2006.
  10. World Bank: Bangladesh: Climate Change & Sustainable Development, Report No. 21104 BD, Dhaka, 2000.
  11. Annual Flood Report: Flood Forcasting and Warning Center (FFWC), Bangladesh Water Developement Board, Dhaka, Bangladesh. (website, www.ffwc.gov.bd ), 2008.
  12. http://www.bmet.org.bd/BMET/resources/Static%20PDF%20and%20DOC/publication/Brief%20on%20Climate%20Change-%20Impact%20on%20Bangladesh.pdf
  13. https://www.thedailystar.net/editorial/news/climate-change-will-hurt-bangladesh-1639540
  14. https://sustainabledevelopment.un.org/content/dsd/resources/res_pdfs/ga-64/cc-inputs/Bangladesh_CCIS.pdf





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