We must think beyond relief efforts and move towards sustainability
Flooding, sadly, is a part of life in Bangladesh. Every single year, large parts of the country find themselves under water, with widespread damage to crops, homes, and livelihoods.
The problem exists in urban areas as well, although the phenomenon of urban waterlogging seen in the capital and other big cities are problems of a slightly different nature, with much culpability lying in the hands of the city councils which have been unable to fix our drainage systems ever after all this time. Nevertheless, both phenomena are worsened by heavy amounts of rain, both are regular and predictable, and both inflict great suffering upon the ordinary citizens of this country.
Right now, in the district of Gopalganj, some 19,000 families are stranded due to heavy flooding. Untold damage has been done, with homes submerged and fish enclosures, standing crops, and vegetable fields washed away. Roads and other infrastructure have also been damaged.
The district of Gopalganj, however, is only one part of a very large problem. We are, year after year, caught utterly unprepared for heavy rainfall, and our own actions of filling up natural water bodies, leaving water with no place to go, makes it all worse. It is terribly unfortunate that the image of Bangladesh is so closely associated with the phenomenon of flooding; sadder still is our inability to treat this problem as a priority.
With the UN launching a $40 million response plan, there is reason to be hopeful that some of the suffering will be eased. However, in the longer term, we must think beyond relief efforts, and move towards sustainability. We cannot be caught off-guard every year by flooding. It is up to the government to take charge of the problem, and work on flood preparedness for future years.