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«A Dissertation for the Degree of Master in Disaster Management By Saleh Ur Rahman Student ID: 13168004 Spring 2014 Postgraduate Programs in Disaster ...»

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A Dissertation for the Degree of Master in Disaster Management


Saleh Ur Rahman

Student ID: 13168004

Spring 2014

Postgraduate Programs in Disaster Management (PPDM)

BRAC University, Dhaka, Bangladesh Acknowledgement Firstly I would like to pay the deepest gratitude to Allah for granting me the power, wisdom, and passion to complete this study. I would like to express my special gratitude to my parents and wife who inspired me to successfully complete this study.

I gratefully acknowledge my honorable supervisor, Mohammad Aminur Rahman, for his instruction and proficient guidance to carry out this study. Without his advice and guidance, I could not have succeeded to this stage. I am expressing my gratitude to my all classmates and teachers in BRAC University for their suggestion about my study.

I want to give especial thanks to Salma Akter who helped me a lot at the beginning of this study and assist me to analyze study data. My cordial thanks to Md. Mannan (Agriculturist) for his unconditional helps me to collect data from grassroots level.

Very special thanks to my all elder brothers and classmates for assisting me with different issues and their incredible help. I would like to offer my gratitude to Professor M Shahjahan Mondal for his valuable suggestions and feedbacks for improving this dissertation.

I am obliged to those people who helped me to translate the transcript from tape recorder to Bengali then from Bengali to English and also those who corrected the English grammar and sentence making, especially to Ms. Farrah Jabin of BIL, BRAC University. I am also thankful to BRAC University library for providing me with books, journals and thesis paper that I required for my thesis as resource materials.

Finally, I would like to express my special thanks to all the participants of all households in this study for sharing their opinions and views with me which assisted in my effective research completion.

ii Abstract 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.

–  –  –

Regular floods are part of people’s lives in various regions of the world, recurring with varying magnitudes and frequencies to which people have adapted for centuries.

These floods are generally expected and welcomed in many parts of the world, since they enrich the soil and provide both water and livelihoods. Usually a flood is an overflow of water that submerges land, low-lying villages and towns or an unusual condition affected by inflow of the tide. Flooding may occur as an overflow of water from water bodies, such as a river or lake, or sea or large natural water basins, or it may occur due to an accumulation of rainwater on saturated ground in an aerial flood.

In disparity, flooding resulting from extreme hydro and meteorological events and taking place in unexpected magnitudes and frequencies can cause loss of lives, livelihoods and infrastructure. They can also damage the environment (Integrated flood management tools series flood forecasting and early warning, 2013). In general, it was analyzed that worldwide flood is the most destructive natural hazards causing extensive damage to the built and natural environment, and devastation to human settlements. Economic losses due to the effects of damaging floods have increased significantly around the world (Integrated Flood Risk Management in Asia, 2005).

The frequency of natural disasters has been increasing over the years, resulting in loss of life, damage to property and destruction of the environment (Living with Risk, 2000). Flood losses reduce the assets of households, communities and societies through the destruction of standing crops, dwellings, infrastructure, machinery and buildings, apart from the tragic loss of life. In some cases, the effect of extreme flooding is dramatic, not only at the individual household level, but also in the country as a whole (Integrated Flood Management Concept Paper, 2009). The Fourth Assessment Report (2007) of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) predicts “heavy precipitation events, which are very likely to increase in frequency, will augment flood risk”. These floods will affect life and livelihoods in human settlements in all areas, such as flood plains, coastal zones, river deltas and 1 mountains. Flooding is also increasing in urban areas, causing severe problems for poor and vulnerable people.

In the Asian region, the picture is more serious rather than the developed countries.

Floods in South Asia are mainly driven by the unique hydro meteorological and monsoonal influences in the region. Two monsoonal windows are operational in the region: the southwest monsoon that follows the summer months and the northeast monsoon in the winter. The southwest monsoon generally prevails from June to September and accounts for nearly 70-80% of the rainfall in this region. On the other hand, melting of glaciers in the Himalayan-Hindukush region, owing to the visible climate change impacts, may give rise to increase in flash floods in the mountainous regions and those places located at the foothills.

South Asia’s geography makes it particularly susceptible to natural disasters.

According to the recently published World Risk Report 2011, countries like Bangladesh, India, Nepal and Pakistan exhibit a high level of vulnerability as demonstrated by their lack of coping capacities and adaptive capacities. In evaluating 173 countries for purposes of creating this year’s World Risk Index, the report gave the following countries its global risk index ranking: Bangladesh (6), Pakistan (66), India (71) and Nepal (99). As per the Index of World Risk Report, Bangladesh has been declared the second most disaster-risk country in Asia only after the Philippines and sixth in the world after countries like Vanuatu, Tonga and Guatemala. The 2007 South Asian floods had wide scale effects in India, Nepal, Bhutan, Pakistan and Bangladesh which resulted into death toll in excess of 2,000 in addition to affecting nearly 30 million people in the region (SAARC workshop on flood risk management in south Asia, 2012).

Bangladesh is one the countries with a unique settings for flooding. Most part of the country is low lying and 80% of the landmass is flood plain thereby leaving the country highly vulnerable to the threat of repeated floods. Historical and recent data show that during past 50 years, at least 7 major floods have taken place in Bangladesh. These floods are meaning of mention because in each of them 30% or more of the landmass were flooded. The pattern of flooding in the country also points towards an increase frequency of floods in the country.

In the perspective of Bangladesh, Floods are annual phenomena with the most severe appearance during the months of July and August in every year. Regular river floods affect 20% of the country increasing up to 68% in extreme years. The floods of 1988, 2 1998 and 2004 were particularly catastrophic, resulting in large-scale destruction and loss of lives (Department of disaster management, 2012).Flood and riverbank erosion are two major environmental disasters that the country experiences recurrently and an estimated one million people are displaced every year due to riverbank erosion in the country (Elahi, 1990). This adversity is further worsened when the devastating flood and riverbank erosion together intensify the process of pauperization in rural areas in Bangladesh (Rahman, 1986; Karim, 1990 and Islam, 1999).

The number of people at risk has been growing each year and the majority is in developing countries like Bangladesh with high poverty levels making them more vulnerable to disasters (Living with Risk, 2000). Grunfest (1995) argues that due to high poverty levels, people have become more vulnerable because they live in hazardous areas including flood plains of river and over the embankment.

It is estimated that become of 35% of the total population in Bangladesh live below poverty level having problems in food subsistence (Khandaker et al., 2000; Karim, 2008). The majority of the people in rural Bangladesh do not have access to proper nutrition, housing settlement and healthcare facilities. Poverty situation is further deteriorated because of natural hazards and calamities every year. Flood and riverbank erosion often dislocates cultivable land and human settlements, and it also destroys agricultural crops massively, disrupts road-linkages and communication infrastructure of the country. Because of this critical situation, displaces and victims of natural disasters face multi-dimensional environmental problems. In maximum cases, they have are unable to adapt with the changing conditions of many sociopolitical, economic and cultural strategies in order to survive in the face of the plethora of problems.

From an academic point of view, many aspects of these environmental issues of Bangladesh have remained understudied. In this view, there are few studies on flood and its secondary effects of riverbank erosion displaces from the livelihood perspective. We do not even know the reasons for flood in the study area. There has a very limited research on the flood and the secondary causes of flood and its effects on the livelihood assets of the community. For that reason, this research has generated data on the flood and riverbank erosion (as the secondary cause of flood) displacement and the impacts of it on the livelihood of the study area. This research specifically generated data on two villages named Gala and Gobinathpur in the Manikganj district. Based on field study, the research provides contextual socioeconomical and cultural data at the experiential level. The general purpose of this study has been to generate data on the impact of flooding on the general lives and livelihoods as well as the riverbank erosion displacement and the impact of these events on the socio-economic status of the people. Survival is the research question and objectives in two different flood prone areas of the country. In every year during rainy session, the rain water and some of the Padma River conduct the flood in these areas. The population on the riverside has increased every year even the flood destroyed their life and livelihood because of the flood they came back to their destination. However, this does not stop affecting their livelihood as well as social and economic factors.

1.2 Objectives of the study

Furthermore, some objectives have been identified to fulfil the study goal, which are:

 To find out the main areas of flood affects in the study area from the literature or historical data sources and also from the local people.

 To find out the impacts or effects of flood and bank erosion on socioeconomic status of the respondents of the study area.

 To find out the most vulnerable livelihood assets and also factors influencing to occupational and social migration in the study area cause of regular flood.

1.3 Methodology

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