Not so High and Dry: Patterns of ‘autonomous adjustment’ to major flooding events in
M.A. Younus, R.D. Bedford AND M. Morad
The Bangladeshi farming system is well adjusted to flooding. Throughout the riverine flood plains and coastal deltas, the farming system is strongly influenced by flood characteristics: timing, depth, duration and frequency (number of flood peaks). This article examines farmers’ responses to recent devastating flood events with particular reference to the farmers’ ‘autonomous adjustments’ during the 1998 flood, arguably the most disruptive flood episode in living memory. Different flood events require different kinds of adjustment which, in turn, influence the pattern of crop damage. If adjustments are appropriate then farmers might expect reasonable crop production. On the other hand, if the flood persists through much of the cropping season leaving little time for crop maturation, then farmers can lose a significant amount of production. The article investigates three kinds of adjustment – routine, tactical and in-built – in the context of normal flood events, and more specifically with reference to the devastating flood in 1998. A range of information obtained in a post-flood field investigation in Islampur (north of Dhaka) has been used to assess the resilience of farmers living in a riverine flood-prone area and the strategies they adopt to cope with severe flood events.
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Date: Summer 2005