Here are some key facts about the monsoon floods which affect Bangladesh almost every year:
* Even during a normal monsoon, floods covers about 20 percent of the country, disrupting life and causing deaths. More than 60 percent of Bangladesh gets inundated during years when the monsoon is severe.
* In the last 100 years, floods have killed over 50,000 people, left nearly 32 million homeless and affected more than 300 million people.
* Bangladesh is one of the most flood-prone countries in the world because of its geographic location and topography. It is the drainage basin for rivers that start in the snowy mountains of India, Tibet, Nepal and Bhutan including the Ganges, Brahmaputra and Teesta.
* Bangladesh is criss-crossed by about 250 rivers, a few, such as the Meghna, swelling to up to 8 km (5 miles) wide during the monsoon season.
* The country's worst floods in 1998 killed more than 3,500 and destroyed crops and infrastructure worth more than $2 billion. The floodwaters inundated two-thirds of Dhaka, a city of some 10 million people, and three-quarters of Bangladesh.
* Between July and Sept. 2004 floods swamped two-thirds of the country, killing around 1,000 people and causing economic losses of more than $2 billion.
CONTROL MEASURES AND HURDLES
* Thousands of kilometres of embankments have been erected since the 1950s, but they have failed to stop the major rivers from flooding.
* The rivers are choked with industrial waste and garbage and drainage systems do not function properly because of encroachment and siltation.
* Silt helps fertilise the soil and increase production. Foodgrain output increased by 16 percent in 1989 after serious floods a year earlier and by nearly 14 percent in 1999 after the widespread flooding in 1998.
Sources: Reuters; Bangladesh Water Development Board (www.bwdb.gov.bd); Emergency Disasters Database (www.em-dat.net)
- Reuters - Thomson Reuters Foundation
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