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Sustainable Flood Management in Bangladesh
Poverty Reduction and Environmental Management (PREM)

Flood mitigation is clearly a very important issue for Bangladesh.  Past and current flood mitigation measures, however, have resulted in unintended environmental impacts, including damage to fish habitats and undesired migration. Consequent negative impacts on poverty has been substantial in a country such as Bangladesh, which is so dependent on fisheries. The study intends to reveal to policymakers the nature of the complex chain that links flood mitigation, environmental change and poverty.  It also aims to show how economic and social welfare measures are affected when environmental changes are taken into account in analyzing the effect of flood mitigation policies.

Bangladesh’s Flood Control, Drainage and Irrigation (FCDI) projects are currently under criticism for badly managing their environmental consequences. In this study, we seek to undertake a systematic examination of such programs that are designed to ensure social security by reducing vulnerability of poor people. This study will try to examine the link between the pro-poor development policies that are related to floodplains such as projects on water resource development (i.e., flood mitigation like embankments, sluice gates and regulators, and other infrastructure creation) and the livelihoods of the fishing community living around the Meghna-Dhonagoda River basin of Bangladesh.  It will try to assess whether the current flood mitigation projects that seek to ensure social security might actually increase the vulnerability of poor fishing communities.

Collaborating Institution

Free University, Amsterdam, the Netherlands

Research Team

Dr. A.K. Enamul Haque

Mr. Sakib Mahmud
Ms. Sonia Aftab
Mr. Wahid Abdallah
Mr. Luke Brander
Dr. Priya Syamsunder
Dr. Roy Brouwer

Areas selected for the study purpose <updated early November 2005)

The PREM study area is divided into three geographical locations: (1) North Matlab, (2) South Matlab and (3) Homna. Both North Matlab and South Matlab are situated in Chandpur district, 50 km south east of Dhaka. Homna is situated in Comilla district (adjacent to Chandpur district) 70 km away from Dhaka. North Matlab has an embankment and South Matlab lies right outside the embankment. Homna lies sixty km away from Matlab and has similar geographical and socio-economic characteristics like Matlab. Homna currently does not receive any protection from flooding.
A total of 1260 respondents were interviewed by local interviewers in person during a period from the last week of March to second week of May 2005. Households were selected using the occupational distribution of household heads in the case study area. Sample households were selected based on the distribution presented in Table 1 and it followed a linear selection method whereby households from every 5th household clusters were matched with the occupational distribution for the survey.

Table 1
Occupational Distribution of Sample Household in Target Area

Primary Occupation


Self-employed farmer


Self-employed fisherman


Self-employed trader


Transport Worker (water)


Transport Worker (Land)


Day laborer




The interviewers were selected from the study area and thoroughly trained. The final questionnaire was  developed after several pre-testing. The questionnaire consists of five main parts: A. General, B. Agriculture, C. Aquaculture, D. Fishing and E. Migration and Flood Related. The general part asks questions that are mainly related to the respondent (age, sex, religion, education, occupation etc.) and households’ standard of living (income, asset ownership, food consumption, sources of water, energy etc.). Parts B, C, and D were designed for specific occupation group. These parts ask detailed information about production, consumption, and sale of crops, cultivated fish and open water fish. Part-E asks questions about migration and flood sufferings. For households living inside the embankment this part (part E) asks respondents questions about (their) perceived advantages and disadvantages of flood protection embankment and damage, if any, incurred due to water logging.
In addition to the household survey, 45 semi-structured key informant interviews were carried out by the research team. Some information sought from the key informants were of quantitative nature, such as, population of the village, per capita income of villagers, water level during flood, etc. However, most of the information collected with key informant method was qualitative in nature. Interviews were designed for individuals from different professional backgrounds; and these were conducted by local college teachers who were trained and briefed thoroughly about the objective of interviews. Local primary school teachers, fishing community leaders as well as field level agricultural extension officials, health workers/NGO workers were interviewed for the study. The Key Informant Interviews were conducted from second week of April to second week of May 2005. On an average each interview with key informants lasted for one and half hours. The questionnaire covered impact of flooding on different occupational group, coping mechanisms during and after flood, information regarding household activities during normal and flood years etc.

Analysis Plan

Based on the household survey data and information collected from Key Informants, the research team is currently working on different parts of analysis. The following six major analyses are being carried out by different pairs of research team:

  • A.K. Enamul Haque and Luke Brander, currently, are working on “Ex ante and ex post cost-benefit analysis of flood protection measures in Bangladesh”.
  • Along with Sakib Mahmud, A.K. Enamul Haque is leading another part of the analysis dealing with “The impact of embankments on land use patterns.”
  • Luke Brander and Sakib Mahmud are working on “The impact of flood protection on housing and land prices in Bangladesh.”
  • Roy Brouwer, together with Sonia Aftab, have been working on “Willingness to pay for flood protection” and on “Indicators of Social vulnerability to flooding.”

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