Flooding in an LEDC - The 1998 Floods in Bangladesh


Between July-September 1998, Bangladesh suffered one of its worse ever floods. Despite being flooding being common in this country, the floods of 1998 were particularly severe resulting in over 1000 deaths and 30 million people being made homeless and newspapers / media sources were full of headlines.

So why is Bangladesh so prone to flooding? Well the answer to this requires consideration of both the physical landscape and conditions of the country and the impact of its population.


Physical (Natural) causes of flooding in Bangladesh
Bangladesh is a very low lying country, with 70% of its land area being less than 1m above sea level and 80% of it being floodplain.

Bangladesh receives large amounts of water passing through it with two major rivers (the Ganges and Brahmaputra) converging and forming a huge delta (see picture) formed from silt deposited by the river as it enters the sea. Both rivers have large volumes of water flowing through them to the sea as they have large drainage basins which increasing the flood risk;
Bangladesh has a monsoon climate and the annual torrential rains which result often result in the rivers exceeding their capacity and flooding;
In the spring, melting snow from the Himalayas further increases the flood risks as torrents of melt water enter the rivers at their source.
Human causes of flooding in Bangladesh
Increasing population pressure in the foothills of the Himalayas where the rain contributes to the source of the River Ganges and Brahmaputra has resulted in intense deforestation. It is believed that this reduction in interception has resulted in more water entering the rivers - indeed with 92% of the area drained by the rivers being in countries other than Bangladesh, Bangladesh's proneness to flooding is exacerbated by population and environmental issues in countries other than its own, making it...