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RIVER EROSION IN BANGLADESH

Bangladesh is a riverine country which is criss-crossed by more than 230 rivers, 57 of them are
international, with a stretch of 2,400 kilometer of bank line. The country is a living delta formed of alluvial
soil which is very prove to erosion with any degree of river activity or water movement. 283 locations as
well as 85 towns and growth centers along the long bank line are seriously affected by river erosion almost
every year. Besides, another 1200 kilometer of bank line is vulnerable to erosion.

Across Bangladesh hundreds of families have been rendered homeless because of soil erosion and rising
water levels in almost all major rivers coupled with incessant rains. They live a floating life: there are more
or less 4.0 million such home less people in the country lead floating life. In most cases such floating
families live on public land such as char lands, embankments, abandoned railway trucks, slopes of highways
etc. Strong currents in the rivers Padma, Jamuna and Brahmaputra have devoured vast low-lying and
riverside areas as well as seriously damaged standing crops and properties.

Rangpur Dinajpur Rural Services (RDRS) staff report from Kurigam that since the 1998 flood about 795
families were displaced due to river erosion in the char areas (small Sand Island) in the river Brahmaputra in
Kurigram district. Some 10 to 15% % of these families have been displaced again by the recent soil erosion.
Displaced families are 350 from three Unions of Rajibpur, Thana, 200 from three Unions of Chilmari Thana,
145 families from Ulipur Thana and 100 families from three Unions of Kurigram Sadar (centre) Thana.

Officials from the national Water Development Board (WDB) state that different flood protection
embankments, roads and housing establishments in and around the rivers Padma and Jamuna are now under
severe threat due to "massive" river erosion. The WDB has already sent messages to their local authorities to
take adequate steps to cope with the devastation. It has also sent experts to different vulnerable areas to see
the situation and take precautionary measures to save the embankments. In different areas they are dumping
sand bags along with bricks and stones to restore the embankments from erosion.

The rise of global sea level by the end of AD 2050 would mean that there is a high risk of coastal inundation
by sea water. In the case of Bangladesh the projected 1.44m rise of sea level would inundate 16% of the
populated land, displace 13% of the population and lose 10% of the GDP. The effect of sea level rise is more
critical, since the Bengal delta is subsiding.

River currents strengthened by rising sea levels have devoured half of Bangladesh's biggest island in 40
years, leaving half a million people homeless, researchers said. From a size of 6,400 square kilometers
(3,968 square miles) in 1965, Bhola Island near the mouth of the Bay of Bengal is now only half its original
size. If the erosion continues at the same rate, it will completely disappear over the next four decades. Rising
sea levels were responsible for the erosion of coastal islands such as Bhola that were not previously
vulnerable to the problem. The erosion of Bhola Island only started in the 1960s. Before that the size was
stable and only a small amount of erosion took place on one side, but from the mid-1960s the erosion began
and the rate has accelerated over the years.

Recently, in some parts of Chittagong coastal belt, erosion has increased at an alarming rate. A vast area
including the export processing zone, the naval establishment, and a large industrial estate could be in
danger if the present rate of erosion continues. Port facilities will have to be adjusted to a higher sea level.

However, in a country like Bangladesh, where inland areas are occupied by agriculture or settlements and
protected by dikes, the mangrove zone would become narrower by erosion and might even disappear.

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River Erosion Project

The project was launched on 1 April 2004 with the mission to address the development needs of the
communities, who have been displaced by river erosion and those who are living under the threat of being
eroded in the near future.

The five year £1.3 million pound project (funded by Community Fund and several other Trusts and donors)
is being implemented in four upazila locations in Gaibandha district, a badly affected area in Bangladesh.
The project is working in collaboration with 5 local partners NGOs with the aim of:

a) Strengthening and supporting the capacity of the target community and institutions to cope with natural
disasters;
b) Providing alternative livelihoods opportunities through, skills development, technology transfer and small
enterprise development;
c) Developing and supporting basic infrastructure services (water, health, housing), and enable poor people
to access existing government services;
d) Raising awareness on basic rights of the community, with particular emphasis on land rights and rights of
women.

Area of Work

The project activities specifically will provide extensive livelihood skills training and technology support,
developing and deploying about 800 community extensions skilled in various trades, establishing 4 cluster
villages, which will be equipped with housing, water, sanitation and other health and education services and
constructing 3 multipurpose shelters. The project will reach directly 20,000 men, women and children within
the project period 2004-2009.

Practical Action will play a key role in technology innovation and dissemination, skills training, enterprise
development, and other activities related to disaster mitigation, market access and infrastructure services.
Partner organization will play a direct role in services such as health and education. The project has
attempted to take a holistic approach to tackle the poverty situation, mobilizing a broad range of
interventions to support a sustainable livelihood system among the community.

FLOODS IN BANGLADESH

Over flowing or influx of water is called a flood. Riverine floods occur when the amount of water flowing
in a drainage basin or watershed (the area that collects and directs the surface water into the streams that
drain it) exceeds the carrying capacity of rivers which drain the area. Flooding can occur due to river
overflow or surface runoff. Flooding propensity in an area can vary greatly with a change in the water
carrying capacity of a drainage basin and/or with a change in land elevation with respect to the base level
(the depth to which a river can cause erosion) of rivers - the ocean. For example, an increase in the water
carrying capacity of a drainage system and/or an increase in the elevation of adjacent land on either side of a
drainage system will reduce flooding propensity in an area.
Therefore, the flood problem and the solution can be analyzed in the context of two fundamental parameters:
water carrying capacity of rivers and land elevation.

The country is criss-crossed by more than 230 rivers, 57 of them are international. More than 1,000 million
tones of sediment pass through Bangladesh annually of which about five per cent remain. Flood in
Bangladesh is a normal annual phenomenon. Being a low lying country at least 20% area is flooded every

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year. In case of severe flood, 68% are inundated. In Bangladesh flood can be classified into 5 categories.

1. River-induced flood
2. Rainfall-induced flood
3. Flash flood
4. Cyclone-induced flood
5. Tidal flood

The Bangladesh Observer has informed that more than 7,000 people have been killed and the country has
suffered economic losses to the tune of US $ 14.24 billion due to 11 major floods since 1954. The highest
death toll, 2,397 people, was recorded in 1988 but the largest economic losses, 3.5 billion dollars, were
registered in 1998.

Possible Causes of Flood

The factors responsible for the recent low frequency floods in Bangladesh can be analyzed in terms of short-
term (immediate causes) and long-term processes. Evident phenomena that take place prior to and during
floods, which can easily be related as plausible causes for floods, are termed short-term processes. On the
other hand, the slowly occurring phenomena which can not be tied to the flood problem directly are termed
long-term processes.

Short-Term Causes
1. Monsoon downpour: An increased amount of precipitation can cause flooding. An above normal
monsoon downpour in the Ganges-Brahmaputra-Meghna drainage system is thought to be the primary cause
of the 1988 flood in Bangladesh. It is not known, however, if the heavy precipitation is actually an effect of
other processes such as the greenhouse effect or destruction of forests in the upstream region.

2. Synchronization of Flood Peaks: The synchronization of flood peaks for the major three
rivers took place within a two week time period, causing a sudden increase in water level in virtually all
areas of the country.

Long-Term Causes
1. Level Rise of Local Relative Sea: At the present time sea level is rising globally. If sea
level rises in an area at a rate faster than the rate of land aggradations due to sedimentation, then land
elevation decreases. Any decrease in land elevation can cause increased inundation by rivers overflowing at
bank full stage

2. Inadequate Sediment Accumulation: The only way for land to counter the effects of a
rising sea is for sediment to accumulate at a rate that is sufficient to keep pace with the rate of sea level rise.
Limited data show that the average sediment accumulation rate for the last few hundred years in the coastal
areas of Bangladesh is 5-6 mm/year, which is not enough to keep pace with the rising sea level.

3. Riverbed Aggradations: Due to relatively higher settling velocity, the large-grained sediments
are deposited near the source area on the riverbeds, forming sand bars. The river gradient decreases rapidly
if sedimentation continues on the riverbeds. Because of low gradients and high sediment loads, the riverbeds
of most of the rivers in Bangladesh aggrades very quickly

4. Deforestation in the Upstream Region: A rapid increase in population in the Indian


Subcontinent over the course of the present century has resulted in an acceleration of deforestation in the
hills of Nepal to meet the increasing demand for food and fuel wood. Deforestation of steep slopes is
assumed to lead to accelerated soil erosion and landslides during monsoon precipitations. This in turn is
believed to contribute to devastating floods in the downstream regions such as in Bangladesh

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5. Damming of Rivers: Damming of a river reduces the velocity of water flow downstream from
the dam. As a result of reduced velocity, the sediments carried by the river start to settle down faster on the
riverbed, causing riverbed aggradations and in turn reducing the water carrying capacity of the river. The
Farakka Barrage on the Ganges has already caused tremendous damage to the agriculture, navigation,
environment, and hydrodynamic equilibrium in Bangladesh.

6. Soil Erosion due to Tilling: Plugging makes the land surface more susceptible to soil erosion.
Surface run-off can easily wash away the topsoil from cultivated land. This surface erosion reduces land
elevation, which in turn increases flood intensity in an area.

7. Excessive Development: Rapid population growth creates extra pressure on the land of already
overcrowded Bangladesh. Agricultural lands give way to housing developments and roads. This rapid
development and urbanization must have aggravated the flooding problem in Bangladesh.

8. Seismic (Earthquake) and Neotectonic Activities: Bangladesh lies on the Indian


lithosphere plate, which is pushing against the Asian plate, causing growth of the Himalayas and occasional
earthquakes in the region. Earthquakes cause movement of the land, and this can change the topography of
the region and alter river courses. A sudden change in a river course can cause substantial flooding.
Neotectonic activities (recent movements in the Earth's crust) are affecting river courses in the area

9. Greenhouse Effect: The world is about to enter a period of rapid warming. The effect on flooding
of a higher base level resulting from a rising sea level has already been discussed earlier in this section. The
greenhouse effect will also increase the amount of rainfall and storminess, which will further aggravate the
flood problem.

Possible Solutions of the Flood Problems

Solution of flood problem can be divided in two types. They are as follows:

Structural Solutions
Structural solutions call for the engineering of structures such as embankments along rivers, dams, drains,
reservoirs, and other structures designed to control the natural flow of rivers. Structural solutions treat the
problem section of a river basin in isolation; and generally do not take into account the possible geologic
consequences. Structural solutions are in practice on a limited scale in Bangladesh as part of a flood control
project.

Geologic Solutions
The following paragraphs discuss possible ways of helping to increase land elevation and capacity of the
river basin. Structural elements such as dams, sluice gates, along with dredging and dispersion of sediments
will have to be applied in order to achieve the desired goal of increasing land elevation and capacity of the
drainage basin. This will in turn help mitigate the flood problem in Bangladesh.

1. Dredging and Re-excavation of Rivers: Continuous dredging of the rivers and channels
and dispersion of the dredged sediments on the delta plain will not only increase elevation of the land, but
will also increase the capacity of the rivers

2. Preventing Land Degradation: Suspended sediments adhere to the stems of plants. Farmers
can be advised to leave a few inches of stem remaining from their rice crops during harvesting before the
rainy season. They should also be given more information about the problem of soil erosion

3. Flood Preparedness: An understanding of how individuals have adapted to and are affected by
floods may suggest new and less costly ways of reducing flood damages. Indigenous solutions such as the
building of suitable housing, shelters and infrastructures also deserve serious consideration.

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Technical Review of the Bangladesh Flood Action Plan

The World Bank's Bangladesh Flood Action Plan (FAP) fails to adequately address the most serious
flooding problem in Bangladesh: Coastal Flooding due to cyclone-driven storm surges which have killed
over a million people in the past three decades.

a) The FAP cannot be justified economically on flood control grounds, and instead relies on the economic
benefits of expected increases in food production, in effect becoming a food action plan. Yet, the most cost-
effective way to increase food production in Bangladesh is through wider use of tube wells and low lift
pumps for dry season irrigation, technologies completely independent of flood control.

b) River channelization by FAP embankments will increase the risk of flood damage for downstream areas
and for land and populations between embankments.

c) No proven technology exists for protecting FAP embankments from erosion by the migrating rivers of
Bangladesh. The alternative of embankment retreat in the face of advancing migrating rivers has never been
successful in Bangladesh due to problems with land acquisition and population displacement.

d) Careful and regular maintenance, which are essential to the survival of FAP embankments, cannot be
assured given the high annual cost which must be borne in perpetuity by the Bangladeshi government which
has a record of neglecting maintenance of existing flood control embankments.

e) Channelization of the heavily sediment-laden rivers of Bangladesh will likely lead to sedimentation
between the embankments, reducing flood control capacity and requiring continual expensive raising of
embankment heights.

f) Earthquakes capable of destroying the FAP embankments system can be expected to occur during the
lifetime of the project, causing floods greater in severity that would occur without embankments.

g) The FAP is likely to exacerbate existing drainage problems which already cause severe flooding from
intense local rainfall resulting in water logging and crop failures.

h) By blocking fish migration paths between rivers and submerged floodplain fields, the embankments of
the FAP will likely result in significant adverse effects on the nation's fresh water fisheries, the source of 80
percent of the protein consumed in Bangladesh.

i) The FAP will require forced displacement of up to eight million people, and will threaten the livelihoods
of millions of other Bangladeshi farmers, creating significant political and social obstacles which could
threaten the entire project.

j) There has been minimal opportunity for participation by local communities who are intended to benefit
from the FAP and whose cooperation is essential to the Plan's success according to the United Nations
Development Programme.

k) Many flood management alternatives, such as high ground refuges, flood warning systems and flood
proofing, are likely to be significantly more cost-effective in reducing river flood damages than the
structural flood control approach of the FAP.

Since Bangladesh is a small part of a bigger hydrodynamic system that comprises several countries in the
region, mutual understanding and cooperation among the co-riparian countries will be necessary in order to
formulate any long-term and permanent solution to the flood problem. However, extensive dredging of
rivers and reoccupation of abandoned channels in Bangladesh, and dispersion of the dredged materials on
the low-lying floodplains can increase land elevations and the capacity of rivers.

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MONGA IN BANGLADESH

Monga, a near-famine situation which hits the northern districts every year, has forced poor people either to
borrow money from usurers at an excessively high interest or to sell their labour in advance at an unusually
low rate to keep their families from starvation. The immediate impact of Monga is increased unemployment
rates, and consequently reduced family incomes, food security and nutrition levels.

The Monga period spans from mid-August to late November (Bhadra to mid Agrahayan in the Bangla
calendar) in parts of Nilphamari, Lalmonirhat, Kurigram, Gaibandha, Rangpur, Panchagarh and Thakurgaon
districts. Farm workers in thousands make their way to the capital for jobs. Many of them opt for pulling
rickshaws, the most easily available work in Dhaka's informal day-labour market. According to the
researchers, rickshaw owners also typically cash in on the rising demand and double the charges for
rickshaw rentals - from the usual rate of Tk 40 to 50 a day to Tk 80 to 90 per day.

As they become unemployed around this time every year, many sell their labour in advance and stay with
their families. Some start begging and plying rickshaws while many leave for Bogra, Dhaka and other places
for jobs. Passenger buses leaving the Kurigram, Rangpur, Nilphamari, Gaibandha bus terminals are usually
overloaded with poor people. The poor people swamp less expensive buses, hoping to get to places where
they can earn some money.

1. Mass migration to slums of Dhaka


2. Rich and local strongmen ruthlessly try to elbow out thousands of landless families
3. Hundreds of trafficked children forced into slavery
4. Cold Wave Kills Poor and Children in Bangladesh

The wages of day-labourers have slumped in the monga-hit northern districts forcing the destitute people to
migrate to other places including the capital for better wages. In Bogra, where hundreds of people from
Kurigram, Gaibandha and Nilphamari gathered to find a job, the employers pay a labourer hardly Tk 30 for
eight hours' service.
Both the labourers and local land-owners said the wage rate in Bogra did not increase in the last five years
and it comes down to a half during the monga season.

Poor people at the Nasri bazaar were seen buying 1 kg or half a kg rice, potato or arum to feed their families
as they cannot buy fish or vegetables. Women labourers are more vulnerable than males to the extreme
poverty as they do not find work in these hard days.

Despite being a part of the rice and other crop-growing area of the country, Kurigram is the most vulnerable
area in the country, and almost every year the period from October to December brings on the phenomenon
of 'monga' or food shortage where the poorer people go hungry because of lack of employment
opportunities, and no croplands of their own to harvest. Natural calamities like drought and famine, river
erosion and flooding, extreme cold weather and extreme heat affect the people of Kurigram and nearby areas
almost every year.

According to reliable source, a large number of children belonging to the age group of 8 and 12 years are
engaged in odd jobs for earning their livelihood instead of attending school, as their poverty-stricken parents
are unable to support them. The poor farmers find little incentive in educating their children and are
engaging the latter in income generating work like cattle grazing, rickshaw pulling and in restaurants.

The children sell their labour for poor wages and they are subjects to ill-treatment and harassment by their
masters. They are to endure oppression for the sake of survival .The marginal and the landless farmers have
four to six or seven children in average (The Independent, November 10, 2004).

Non-government organisations (NGOs) in monga-affected areas in the district are realising loan installments
from borrowers, ignoring their hardships. At places, borrowers, pressed by NGO employees, take loan from
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moneylenders at high interest rate and pay weekly installments. There are many instances that poor people
who took loan from NGOs are borrowing from moneylenders at high interest rates to pay their weekly
installments.

The situation is worse in rural areas. Many loan recipients this correspondent talked to said they may starve
or remain half-fed but have to pay NGO installments in time. Finding no way, poor people are selling
poultry birds, goats, cattle, trees and even household utensils to pay loan installment.

Some observers said NGOs are getting loans from foreign donors for poverty alleviation but a few of them
are doing the right job. Many NGOs have reduced their education, sanitation and other developing programs
and are now simply earning profit by giving loans to the poor at high interest rates, they said, when
contacted, officials of some NGOs admitted that they are have continued the loan realisation despite the
monga for the good of borrowers (Daily Star, November 9, 2004).

In many cases, farmers are compelled to sell their property due to the burden of standing agricultural loan.
Consequently, some of these frustrated unemployed persons are committing crimes in different areas (The
Independent, November 11, 2004).

A Bengali daily (Prothom Alo, October 26, 2004) commented extensively in an editorial calling for durable
solution to the "Monga" situation in the northwest. It had also decried that inactive role of the NGOs, in
particular big NGOs. It referred to the general perception that NGOs should be in places where government
cannot reach. Despite this, there were no actions by the NGOs, the editorial regretted. What the editorial had
left unsaid is that there is also a general belief that NGOs serve only accessible areas and shy away from
remote and inaccessible areas. At the end, the editorial explained they hope that the government attaches
appropriate priority to provide relief to the "Monga"-hit people in the northern districts.

Concrete Manifestations of Monga


 T he poorest households are pushed into distress conditions, and become compelled to sell their assets for
survival.
Monga affected families are taking maximum one meal per day.
Pregnant, children, lactating mothers including elderly people are suffering from malnutrition.
Rate of diseases increase due to malnutrition and distressed life conditions.
Theft and hijacking increase in the monga affected areas.
Poor vulnerable people are changing their professions.
Unrest and domestic violence tend to increase.
Able-bodies boys and men migrate to cities and more resourceful rural regions of the country.
Babies are born underweight and suffer malnutrition from their first days onward.
Child education stagnates.
Loan from non-institutional sources increased.
Disabled and elderly people of the families are neglected and suffer in particular.
Increased numbers of beggars.
Labor pledging in advance.

Major Causes of Monga


a) After transplanting Aman crops, the men and women have no works and that is why they are sitting idle.
As there is no work, they only spoiled their deposited money, wealth etc without creating any things;

b) Seasonal crises occur with various degrees of severity in different years during approximately the same
period leading to food deprivation.

c) The Monga period is generally from September to last of November in each year. When the new paddy
harvest began at the end of November, the Monga goes off.

Let us have a look into the poverty scenario of the country, especially in the northern parts of the country.
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In our context, it will be more optimistic to eradicate poverty at all. We can reduce the poverty level or
percent from 49.8 to at least 30-35 percent. We can not reduce or eradicate the poverty due to disaster, such
as droughts, flood, cyclones, tornadoes and earthquakes.

When flood management or mitigation is good, then surely it is possible to reduce poverty with some scope
for employment generation. In a flood (which is general phenomena of Gaibandha, Kurigram and the other
areas) we do not only loose the life of people but also properties and bring the water-borne diseases
including diarrhoea, cholera etc. If its management is properly designed and implemented then surely it
creates some positive effect, which ensures some employment generation in the hardship days of jobless
people in the ‘Monga’ areas.

It is known to all that Bangladesh is the disaster prone country of the world. Every bi-yearly the flood occurs
in a drastic manner. In normal flood one-third area of the country and in devastating flood, two-third of the
areas is flooded. And this is normal feature of the country. From the history of flood, it is known to us that
flood occured in 1954,1955, 1974, 1987, 1988, 1997, 1998 and recent 2004. In these floods heavy properties
and crops yields are loosed. In the flood of 1988, 61% of the country was covered with flood water and in
1998, 68% of the country went under water. Among the different years of flood, the flood in the year of
1998 was more disastrous. By the flood of the year 2004, only Boro crops of haor areas were damaged. The
major cause of this devastating flood was heavy rainfall (which was more than that of previous years). The
capital city, Dhaka was also water-logged for a period of about 3 weeks.

From the data source on flood control measures, it is seen that 35% of total area of the country is freed from
flood and that improves the socio-economic condition of the flood free zone with the increased agricultural
production. Yet the northern areas are in the risk of ‘Monga’. Like other parts of the country, here industrial
development is less and that is why less scope for unemployment person. This is one parameter to create
Monga situation.

Every year droughts of varying severity occur from northern areas to different parts of the country. About
2.3 million ha of cropped land are severely affected by drought during the season. Severe drought between
1967 and 1982 caused considerable losses of crops. The yield of Aman crops is severely curtailed at 40-50%
in an area of about 0.50 million hectare to about 0.60 million ha. The environmentalists say that due to
global climate changes in future, drought prone areas may increase and which will create more and more
problem especially in ‘Monga’ areas. So rain fed agriculture should be in practice.

The major problems of ‘Monga’ areas are erosion (soil water erosion), nutrient depletion, water logging,
salinisation, acidification, burial of fertile land by sandy alluvium and river bank erosion. These are so active
not only in northern areas but also other parts of the country that it is beyond our imagination.

By the environmental study, it is known that deforestation in the Himalayan water-shed in Nepal and India,
in the hills of Tripura, Meghalaya, Assam and the Chittagong Hill Tracts and Sylhet hills of the country
affect the down stream erosion and sedimentation because of higher sediment load from the upstream.
For ecological balance, 25% coverage by forest is much needed. But in these ‘Monga’ areas the percent so
far our knowledge goes is about 10% -15% of total areas. Deforestation has tremendously increased during
the past 30 years. Huge numbers of tree plantation and nursery is being done with green revolution, yet it
will taken time to cover up deforestation.

Response of Government & Other Agencies

The central government and some Union Parishad authorities have taken initiatives to face the monga
situation in this region. The regular VGF program has been increased with resources to reach out to
additional hard-core poor families under different packages. Statistical information regarding the actual
coverage of these measures is not available. Among CARE’s key informants are a District Commissioner
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and several Upazila Nirbahi Officers who confirm that there is no systematic approach in these responses.
Most interventions by UP and Upazila officials are of small scale, and generally scattered. All government
officials resented the critical tone in most newspaper reporting on the response to this year’s monga. In some
localities, army staff has been deployed to monitor the process and the local government’s response.

People’s Ability to Cope with Current Situation

The households that have been most affected by monga are coping with the situation by taking food of
inferior quality, and by skipping meals. The array of households’ responses further includes the sale of labor
in advance, or taking loan from money-lenders at high interest rates. The relief distribution on behalf of the
government is found insufficient. Particularly vulnerable are women, children, elderly and ethnic minority
people, as they tend to have limited options in terms of social capital and safety nets.

The government has initiated a programme to sell rice at subsidized price and provide relief through
'vulnerable group feeding' (VGF) programme. Some piecemeal private relief operations have also been
going on to overcome the problem. But as is expected, the programs couldn't keep pace with the massive
need. WFP estimates that one million children in Bangladesh are at risk of acute malnutrition and 500,000
pregnant and nursing women also are extremely vulnerable.

Temporary Solutions
Government programs: The VGF, 'Food for work' etc. are available to mitigate the problem. But it
seems insufficient in response to the acuteness of the problem as well as the time of starting the programme
seems inappropriate. Since the problem occurs almost every year, the government should have preparation
for every year and the programme should start from at least September.

Private relief operations: Private relief operations from different organisations and persons seem
to be effective in dealing with the problem. Concerted private relief operations can be more effective in
handling natural calamities in Bangladesh. If there is an acceptable coordinating body to manage the private
relief operations, the volume of relief will increase as well as its efficient allocation and distribution can be
ensured. Therefore, they can form a fund to operate relief operations in any future emergency such as
monga. It would reduce our dependency on foreign donations and relief too.

Buy labour, sell loans: This can be a strategy of financial institutions and NGOs. Specialised
financial institutions working in this region such as Rajshahi Krishi Unnoyan Bank, Grameen Bank,
Rangpur Dinajpur Rural Service etc. may take special development programmes in this area so that they can
buy surplus labour for their special projects targeting Monga period. They can sell lump-sum loans to buy
labour for the period, that is, people will pay back loan by giving labour.

Pre-cautionary measures from June: Some precautionary measures such as alerting people for
that situation, motivating them for precautionary savings can be effective. Overall, high attention from
government and non-government organisations are necessary to avoid the situation.

Long-Term Solutions
Strengthening NGO activities: Our NGOs are always claiming that they are contributing
substantially to the development of the country. Their claim is now under question in the backdrop of
monga. Various NGOs are now engaged in these areas with different projects. Since NGO activities do not
have significant impact on income generations of the poor people of these areas, now time has come to bring
the NGO activities into accountability. It is a long-standing desire that there should be a regulatory body
which can monitor and evaluate NGO activities. It is very surprising that these NGOs cannot take projects to
overcome only two-month monga-period of a certain area, while they are running crore Taka projects in
different areas.

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Therefore, the NGOs that are active in these areas may be urged to take short and medium-term projects to
help the poor people come-out of the monga cycle. If one member from each family can be brought into
income-generating activities, the situation will be much different.

Revitalising rural banking activities: It is also widely discussed that our rural agricultural
banking system is not so much effective in eradicating poverty through their loan-programs. Since in most
cases bank provide collateral-based loan, most of the poor-people cannot afford/obtain it. Therefore, it
seems necessary to revitalise the rural banking system so that they can help rural poor people to come out of
the poverty confine. For this, they need to come forward with innovative collateral-free loan or
participatory-basis loan programme. Here participatory-basis loan means bank will actively participate in the
invested business and bank staffs will monitor the production. After final product, profit and loss will be
shared between the bank (lender) and farmer (recipient) according to the contract, at the same time bank will
collect its loan. Or, any other innovative programme a bank can undertake to overcome monga in October
and November each year.

Enhancing economic activities: Setting a target of eradicating monga in some parts of


Bangladesh can be a symbol of eradicating poverty from that part of the country. For this purpose, some
medium and long term measures should be taken by both government and non-government organisations.
Pre- and post-monga measures are necessary. Post monga measures may include confessional loans for
different income generating activities such as poultry-farming, vegetables and other crop production,
handicrafts making, flower plantation, valuable tree plantation, fishing etc. so that people can come out from
poverty trap.
Some small and medium scale industries, agro-processing industries can be set up in these areas to reduce
the unemployment situation. Besides these, there are many other ways to enhance economic activities in
these areas.

Conclusion

From the recommendation of the study it may be hoped that the findings of impact evaluation will
successfully develop greater understanding of the Monga phenomenon itself and it will flag decisive policy
for Monga risk management in the better future for the people of northern districts.

The findings of the study should be implemented on emergency basis with emergency fund for the welfare
of the ‘Monga’. It should not only be concentrated on the paper or reports. There should be a reality for fund
utilisation. We, the planners and executors must do something for them. Much time has been spent on
seminar, symposium on it and now let us have look into the reality and do something for them.

It is expected that the government and non-government organizations will come forward with appropriate
and effective planning to drive out "monga" from Bangladesh. It would be a one-step forward to alleviate
poverty.

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