Impacts of the 1997-98 El Niño Event in Bangladesh

Ekram Hossain, Syed Alam, Kazi Imam and Mohammad Hoque (2000). Impacts of the 1997-98 El Niño Event in Bangladesh. Reducing the Impact of Environmental Emergencies through Early Warning and Preparedness in the Case of El Niño-Southern Oscillation (ENSO). United Nations University.

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    Author Ekram Hossain
    Syed Alam
    Kazi Imam
    Mohammad Hoque
    Editor Ekram Hossain
    Title Impacts of the 1997-98 El Niño Event in Bangladesh
    Series Title Reducing the Impact of Environmental Emergencies through Early Warning and Preparedness in the Case of El Niño-Southern Oscillation (ENSO)
    Publication Date 2000
    Place of Publication Dhaka
    Publisher United Nations University
    Pages 92
    Language eng
    Abstract Bangladesh is one of the worst victim regions of El Niño/La Niña impacts. The existing geophysical and socio-economic settings of the country help increase both the vulnerability to and severity of those events. The country's agro-based production system depends mainly on climatic phenomena. Bangladesh is perhaps the most unique country in the world where casualties resulting from a cyclone could rise into the hundreds of thousands, for example, the October 1970 cyclone that killed an estimated 500,000 people and the April 1991 cyclone that killed an estimated 140,000 people (see Haider, et al., 1991). Floods can devastate more than half the country causing damage in the billions of dollars. Nor'westers and tornadoes often demolish settlements and the economy in many parts of the country. Droughts destroy the country's food chain, food stock and agro-based production systems. A large number of households become homeless because of riverbank erosion. Scientists have found a correlation between El Niño/La Niña events and variability of climatic phenomena in the country, which as a result, cause those climate-related natural disasters mentioned above. To reduce the negative impacts of climate-related disasters and to minimize the suffering of the people, the Government of Bangladesh has established a set of mechanisms including institutional arrangements for disaster preparedness and relief and rehabilitation of the areas affected or likely to be affected. For making the established mechanisms appropriately and effectively operational, an exhaustive guidebook entitled Standing Orders on Disaster has been designed outlining the activities of each related ministry, division and major agencies and departments. The Ministry of Relief and Rehabilitation, the Bangladesh Meteorological Department (BMD), the Disaster Management Bureau (DMB), the Space Research and Remote Sensing Organization (SPARRSO) and various other organizations both at national and local levels are associated to cope with the problems of geophysical and climate-related disasters. Still, there is a lack of scientific efforts and modern technological know-how regarding the proper management of climate-related disasters, including predictions, preparedness and mitigation measures. Scientific research in Bangladesh relating to El Niño has not reached a satisfactory level. Research on the issue is mostly conducted through individual initiatives. The researchers use data generated by both traditional and sophisticated methods by various national and international meteorological agencies. There is evidence of historical interest in El Niño/La Niña in the country before the onset of the 1997-98 event. The real credit for meteorological and agro-meteorological predictions during ancient times goes to a mythical woman named Khana. Her verses are said to be the envy of any scientist of any time. There were several other mythical people who devoted themselves to the prediction of meteorological phenomena during ancient times. Scientifically, it was Gilbert Walker who (during the British Rule in India) identified effects of ENSO events on this sub-continent. Bangladesh is mainly dependent on international meteorological agencies for the flow of meteorological information including predictions and transmission. SPARRSO was the first in Bangladesh to receive 1997-98 El Niño information. Although SPARRSO was a bit late in transmitting these pieces of information, they got relatively wide media coverage within the country. This study found that El Niño’s teleconnections influence the climates of Bangladesh and India. According to ENSO information and its analysis in the context of Bangladesh, El Niño is generally associated with drought, whereas La Niña results in increased rainfall and flooding.
    Copyright Holder United Nations University
    Copyright Year 2000
    Copyright type All rights reserved
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    Created: Fri, 05 Nov 2021, 16:03:10 JST