In Bangladesh, data sharing across borders has helped them prepare for the monsoon floods

Moulvibazar, Bangladesh, has flooded, and people are evacuating the area. Photo credit: Serajul Islam/The Third Pole

As the monsoon season begins, parts of Bangladesh have already flooded, and both the Ganga and Brahmaputra rivers will are predicted to overflow soon. However, the people of Bangladesh are more aware and better equipped to deal with and prepare for potential natural disasters, thanks to their improved flood monitoring and forecasting systems.

“We made a forecast for the ongoing flood in the Surma-Kushiuyara basin prior to June 30, and now we are forecasting that the water level in many points of Ganga and Brahmaputra might cross the danger level,” Sazzad Hossain, executive engineer at the Bangladesh Flood Forecasting and Warning Centre (FFWC), said to The Third Pole.

The projections the centre made are based on upstream water flow data from the Barack, Brahmaputra, Feni, Ganga, and Teesta rivers – all of them transboundary rivers that can be traced back to India. And the data the FFWC had access to was from the Bangladesh Meteorological Department, who in turn had received them from meteorological offices located in China and India. But most importantly, the data had given the relevant authorities enough time to brace themselves for the floods, and even evacuate residents if necessary.

Under a bilateral agreement held up between the nations, both India and China provide Bangladesh with data and information twice a day during the monsoon season to aid the country in updating and improving its flood forecasting systems.


In Sylhet, Bangladesh, with his stick, a man feels for land under the water. Photo credit: Serajul Islam/The Third Pole

Early flooding
However, heavy rainfall this year in Bangladesh and the bordering Indian states of Meghalaya and Assam have already caused floods, and north-eastern Bangladesh has been badly hit by the Surma River’s swelling banks.

According to the Bangladesh Water Development Board, the flood has affected hundreds in the Habiganj, Moulovibazar, Sunamganj, and Sylhet districts, closing 280 schools and cutting off an estimated 300,000 people.


Early warnings
But because Bangladesh can learn about potential danger a few essential days in advance now, preparations can, in turn, be made earlier.

According to the Department of Agricultural Extension (DAE), preparations have been made to provide farmers with fresh Aman paddy seeds in the event their crops are damaged by the floods.

“We have enough time to prepare to supply farmers with Aman paddy seeds after the flood so that they can continue,” Chaitanya Kumar Das, deputy director of the DAE, said to The Third Pole.

“Considering the FFWC’s forecast, we have made preparations, including relief and rehabilitation mechanisms to tackle the natural disaster,” Abu Saleh Mohammad Ferdous Khan, deputy commissioner of Kurigram district administration, said. “We also have enough time to evacuate people living in low-lying areas near the rivers.”


Source: The Third Pole