Our future may well look worse than our past if we do not take anti-flood measures without delay

Floods in recent years have been particularly devastating, and along with it, we have witnessed vast crop damage. Higher magnitude flooding used to be a fairly infrequent phenomenon, happening in only six different years over a 42-year period from 1972 to 2014. In the last six years, though, the country has experienced higher magnitude flooding every single year, submerging more than 22% of the country’s land.

The implications to agriculture and food production are extremely grim: According to a recent study conducted by rice scientists, if annual and monsoonal floods and flash floods exceed the 22% threshold, rice production takes a hit by 70 tons or so per square kilometre. At a time when Bangladesh struggles to avert a food crisis, particularly in the face of the Covid-19 pandemic, this is nothing if not alarming.

The task ahead for the government is clear: Urgent steps must be taken to safeguard against flooding. We are, and always have been, a flood-prone nation — that is a fact. However, if the trends are anything to go by, our future may well look worse than our past if we do not take anti-flood measures without delay.

This means, as per the opinion of experts, excavating canals, and re-excavating waterbodies in flood-prone zones that have been filled up or silted up. These waterbodies have lost their capacity to retain water — they then overflow and cause untold damage and human misery.

In the meantime, food-affected farmers need all the support they can get in order to carry on. Not only is that an immediate humanitarian need, but one to safeguard our food security, and our economic development goals.

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