Case Study on Flood proofing project of CARE International in
Floods in Bangladesh are almost an annual feature of peoples’ lives which is, to a large extent, due to its
geographical location and natural drainage system. The major river systems, including the Ganges, the
Brahmaputra and the Meghna, pass through Bangladesh to reach the Bay of Bengal. The country has
excessive rainfall, particularly in the upper catchment. Floods inundate a substantial part of Bangladesh
every year from July to September. In a “normal” year about 20 per cent of the country is affected but
under extreme conditions as much 60-70 per cent of the country would be inundated. Pervasive flooding
in the low-lying areas of Bangladesh creates perennial challenges for households and their environment.
Even in years of average floods, many households get inundated and income-earning opportunities
become scarce during the flood season. The scale of flooding in Bangladesh can defy comprehension.
Frequent flooding exacts a heavy toll especially on poor families in low-lying areas, where annual loss of
life and what small assets people possess are considerable. The floods in 1988 captured the world media’s
attention as the worst in recorded history inundating nearly 60 per cent of the land area (52 districts out
of 64) of the country and affecting 45 million people. The extent of total loss was estimated to be
equivalent to US$ 1.2 billion. An estimated 7.2 million dwellings were damaged or destroyed in 1988. And
the prolonged flooding of 1998 affected 10 million people and 60 per cent of the country. Often these
statistics do not reflect the human misery and the adverse impact on the livelihoods of most individuals,
families and communities affected by the disasters.
Generally, a major part of the country suffers due to flooding but it causes serious problems in the active
flood plains in the main river channels (locally termed as chars1 ). Normal monsoon inundation tends to
last for weeks rather than months, but floods can occur several times during the monsoon season. In
chars, erosion is also an important hazard. Villages are less permanent, as households move to adjacent
areas when erosion occurs.
In general, the charland experiences mid-level flooding every 3 years. Floods have several impacts on the
life of char dwellers, direct impacts are the loss of lives, livestock and poultry, damage to houses,
household assets, boats, standing crops and lack of employment opportunities. Indirect impacts are linked
to the exposure to diseases, malnutrition, starvation and an unhygienic environment. The dependency
and indebtedness of poor households to their landlords and patrons also increases during floods, when
cash is needed to purchase food, medical expenses and reorganization of assets and crops (Flood Action
Plan, FAP, 3.1 Study).
The disastrous flood of 1988 demonstrated the need for more comprehensive flood plain planning. As a
result, the Government of Bangladesh with multi donor support, launched the Flood Action Plan (FAP) in
order to formulate and implement technical, economic, and environmental rehabilitation and protection
measures to counter the adverse effects of annual floods throughout the country. FAP 23, one of the
major components of the Flood Action Plan, reviewed and evaluated the possible performance of ongoing
Flood-proofing is defined as: the provisioning of long-term, structural or non-structural measures that can
be taken by individuals, families or communities to mitigate the effects of floods. The study concluded
that national-, regional-, and community-level flood-proofing strategies have inadequately addressed the
impact of annual floods on the livelihoods of poor and vulnerable households and communities, whose
limited or virtually non-existent resource bases invariably prohibit their ability to plan and implement
effective flood-proofing measures when compared to the rest of the population.
CARE Bangladesh with the financial assistance of the USAID undertook a 5- year (since fiscal year 1999)
Flood Proofing Project. The project is being implemented through a partnership arrangement by CARE,
Local Government Engineering Department of the Government, local partner NGOs and Union Parishads2
(UP) in 1000 communities on active floodplains in 20 high flood risk sub-districts. These communities
experience regular annual flooding as they are either located in the active floodplains of major river
channels or the tectonic depression areas. This makes the project’s geographical setup wide ranging.
However, for this study the project location is zoomed in Kurigram district (northern part of Bangladesh),
an active floodplain formed along and/ or within the Brahmaputra River
Motivation & Purpose
The primary reason for designing and implementing this project is to reduce the adverse impact of
flooding on the lives of the rural flood-prone communities which get inundated every year. The scale of
inundation differs from year to year as determined by the flooding characteristics. Relative economic
losses due to the magnitude of flooding leaves behind innumerable poor vulnerable and vulnerable. The
poor, vulnerable communities cannot develop a strong coping mechanism of their own as they lack
information and skill development options. The FAP –23 articulated the recommendations for floodproofing activities through an in-depth cause and effect assessment. On the other side, CARE’s experience
in traditional disaster management activities through a relief oriented approach spoke for a communitydriven participatory disaster management programme. Many players, contributors like (USAID) and
CARE– Bangladesh, government counterparts (Local Government Engineering Department), partner
NGOs, communities, and research organizations are involved in the planning, implementation, and
The community members become involved in the project from the very beginning. CARE and the partner
organizations come to the community with a very wide and flexible goal and mission statement whose
main message is to attain a sustainable mechanism through reducing the adverse impact of floods. Once
they entered into community idea sharing, dialogue, situation analysis, needs assessment, planning, and
negotiating process for cost sharing and communities’ contribution commenced with the active
participation of the communities which continue for nearly six months. Many communities came up with
their own unique flood-proofing plan even though they were affected by a common problem. The
uniqueness originated from each community’s capacity, social capital base and the potentialities they
identified. A community representative committee, called Local Project Society (LPS) was also formed
within this planning process.
Based on these propositions the Flood Proofing Project (FPP) was designed and started working in October
1999 and will conclude in September 2004. The project is community-based by approach and strategy and
includes a wide range of programming components such as: Community Mobilization and Awareness.
Household Flood Proofing Measures, Small-Scale Agriculture, Social Forestation, Infrastructure and
Community Resource Management, and Income and Livelihood Protection. The major activities of the
project are as follows:
Community Mobilization and Training The project uses Participatory Learning and Action (PLA)
methodology as an initial process of community mobilization. Application of PLA at the beginning of the
project encourages community’s participation in analysing and identifying the flood vulnerabilities, needs,
and potential resources crucial for mitigating the adverse impacts of flooding, and strengthens the
communities’ capacity for managing the entire project by themselves. The project facilitates the
mobilization, formation, establishment and continued proactive participatory management of flood
preparedness committees in all participating communities. In each community, a committee termed as
Local Project Society (LPS) is formed to execute the respective community’s decisions and implementation
of flood-proofing plans. The committee disseminates early warnings and establishes systems for
evacuation as well as implementation of flood-proofing interventions. This essential component of the
project ensures continued community ownership and responsibility for flood proofing and preparedness
activities. The project arranges extensive training for capacity building of LPS members and links the LPS
with other development agencies and local government for sustainability of FPP interventions. The project
also forms Mother’s Clubs, Adolescents and Children Forums in each community and provides behaviour
change education on flood preparedness, health, nutrition, etc. For follow-up learning processes and
demonstrating the best practices, an advanced group called Community Based Volunteer (CBV) is
promoted. CBVs closely work with the female community.
Structural Mitigation Measures The structural flood-Proofing measures include making adjustments to
infrastructure to keep water out or reduce water inundfation, e.g., raising homestead yards. The raised
yards allow the residents spacing for cattle/ livestock shade, poultry-keeping, fodder-storing and ensure
that possessions remain above floodwater levels. The other interventions are installation of latrines and
tube-wells above peak water levels, the construction and renovation of community flood
shelters/communal places, elevated village roads and small culverts, village markets and river ghats, etc.
Many of these interventions have significantly reduced the additional burden on women during the flood
Small-scale Agriculture, Social Forestation and Erosion Control Measures The project promotes smallscale agriculture and improved natural resources in the communities. These include homestead and roof
top vegetable gardens in the raised or protected homesteads, tree plantation, social forestry, and
livestock-rearing. FPP raises awareness and assists communities in planting trees and establishing
nurseries in order to mitigate erosion and supplement income within communities.
Income and Livelihood Protection Disruption in the local economy during and after floods is manifested
in shortages in employment opportunities, which can severely depress the incomes of poor people, who
possess little food or financial reserves. The loss of income can result in severe malnutrition, and at times
homelessness and displacement. People often incur debts in these situations, which impacts on their
future livelihood security in an adverse manner.
The project identifies and supports alternative income-generating activities (IGAs) especially those which
can continue throughout the flooding season in order to supplement the income base of poor households.
Rural credits for various IGAs are undertaken through partner NGOs as an extension of their own credit
1. Discuss the disaster profile of the Bangladesh.
2. Assume that you are appointed as a Disaster Management officer of the specify flood scenario,
and the higher authority asked you to do the disaster rapid damage assessment and technical
assessment of the flood disaster in Bangladesh. Prepare both disaster rapid damage assessment
and technical assessment tools/measurement to carry out the disaster impact assessment.
3. Discuss how CARE international implemented flood-proofing project on the basis of community
disaster management approach.
4. Critically discuss the expected effective outcomes of each activity of the CARE international’s
flood-proofing project on the basis of long-term rehabilitation of the flood victims
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