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2017 Flash Flood in Bangladesh: Lessons Learnt

Disaster Resilience and Sustainability: Adaptation for Sustainable Development

A book chapter on '2017 Flash Flood in Bangladesh: Lessons Learnt', co-authored by Bangabandhu Chair Professor Joyashree Roy has been published in the book entitled, Disaster Resilience and Sustainability-Adaptation for Sustainable Development. The book is co-edited by Dr. Indrajit Pal, Prof. Rajib Shaw, Dr. Riyanti Djalante and Prof. Sangam Shrestha, and was published by Elsevier on 23rd June 2021. This book was the product of the “First International Symposium on Disaster Resilience and Sustainable Development”, organized by AIT along with other partners in March 2019. Dr. Eden Y. Woon, President, AIT, inaugurated the new book during the 2nd International Symposium on Disaster Resilience and Sustainable Development which was held between 24-25 June 2021.

Chapter Abstract

The 2017 flash flood happened due to unusual pre-monsoon heavy rainfall in the upper catchment areas of northeastern wetland, popularly called Haor, regions of Bangladesh. The heavy rainfall occurred 1 month ahead of regular calendar time and left a cascading effect. Income and livelihood security of people living in these wetland areas of Bangladesh primarily depend on the natural resources of the area such as land resources, water, favorable climatic conditions, thriving biodiversity etc. An early pre-monsoon flash flood in 2017 in the Sunamganj district damaged about 90% of agricultural crops and fish production. Impacts of flash floods on the lives and livelihood of local people are assessed by using both quantitative and qualitative methods in this study. Sentinel-1 radar data of the European Space Agency was used to characterize the 2017 flood. In addition, data comes from Focus Group Discussion, Key Informant Interview to assess the impacts of floods on people, their coping strategies, and related social processes. The results suggest that floods return in every 3 years in the area and sometimes in big magnitude compared to regular floods, which does not give local farmers adequate time to offset the loss that happened in the last disaster. Loss of livelihoods of people and related poverty conditions, food insecurity and malnutrition, loss of assets, and transfer of ownership of land resources from local farmers to external entities due to market failure were found to be the direct impacts of the 2017 flood. On the other hand, forced migration of farmers from the local environment to unfamiliar and unjust workplaces in the cities, disagreements between farmers with government agencies in choosing the paddy variety (BRRI 28 or BRRI 29) to cultivate, and dispute over prioritization of crop-duration variety versus yield-optimization variety are the indirect impacts of flood 2017.

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