Bangladesh’s cyclone vulnerability worsens for climate change

Staff Correspondent

26 May, 2021 12:00 AM printer

Bangladesh and the surrounding regions are struck by devastating tropical cyclones every year, causing huge losses to lives and property.

Historically, the impact of cyclones has been catastrophic; sometimes killing hundreds of thousands of people, not to mention the damage caused to properties.

In 2020, super cyclone Amphan was the first-ever super cyclonic storm in the Bay of Bengal since the 1999 Odisha Cyclone.

In Bangladesh, there are two cyclonic seasons — March-April and October-November. Several small to large cyclones make landfall in Bangladesh during these periods.

The country faces the threat of cyclones on a yearly basis but the strength and ferocity of these cyclones are further escalated with the increased threats of climate change.

The majority of the damage is caused by water in the form of storm surges. Bangladesh is particularly vulnerable to storm surge and flooding due to the geography of the land and region.

SAARC Meteorological Research Center (SMRC) report of 1998 says from 1582 to 1974, 46 large scale cyclones hit the coastal region of SAARC countries; most of which made landfall in Chittagong, Cox’s Bazar, Khulna, the Sundarbans, Noakhali, Feni, Teknaf, Kutubdia and other coastal areas of Bangladesh (SMRC 1998- No.1).

Cyclone Roanu in May 2016 mainly impacted six coastal districts of Bangladesh but affected more than 1.3 million people and displaced 200,000 people even though the storm was considered to be a low to medium strength.

The Bhola Cyclone of 1970 alone claimed almost half a million people lives, making it the deadliest disaster in the history of this region affecting Chittagong, Barguna, Khepupara, Patuakhali, and north of Char Burhanuddin, Char Tazumuddin and south of Maijdi, Haringhata. More than 400,000 houses and 3,500 educational institutions were destroyed by the cyclone.

In 1991, a cyclone occurred on April 29 of the year affecting the Chittagong district of southeastern Bangladesh. More than 10 million people became homeless due to the cyclone.

Cyclone Sidr hit Bangladesh on November 15, 2007, and claimed up to 10,000 lives, according to Red Crescent Society. The storm affected Bagerhat, Barisal, Patuakhali, Pirojpur, Khulna and Satkhira region. Livestock, farms and feeds worth more than Tk 130 crore were destroyed.

Cyclone Aila occurred on May 25, 2009, claiming up to 190 lives and affecting mostly southwestern coastal regions of Bangladesh.

A total of 6,000 kilometres of roads were damaged, more than 500,000 people became homeless. There was complete destruction of 275 primary schools and damage to 1,942 schools due to Aila.

Cyclone Roanu hit the country on May 21, 2016, claiming a total of 26 lives and affecting mostly Sandwip, Hatia, Kutubdia, Sitakundu and Feni district. Around one lakh houses were damaged and about 150,000 families were affected by the cyclone.

Cyclone FANI occurred on 4 May 2019. It crossed Bangladesh at a weakened state, but with unexpected damage and loss to lives. A total of 15 districts were affected by cyclone FANI. At least 20 people (11 because of storm and 9 because of thunder) were killed on 3 and 4 May.

In 2019, Cyclone Bulbul occurred on 09 November. It made landfall near Sagar Islands of South 24 Pargana district in India’s West Bengal state with a gale wind speed of 115-125 km per hour. At least 23 people have died due to the impact of cyclonic storm Bulbul in Bangladesh.

Crops on around 2, 89,000 hectares of land in 16 districts were affected by the cyclone, according to the Department of Agriculture Extension (DAE). The tropical cyclone damaged about 5,000 homes in the country’s south-western coastal districts, according to State Minister Enamur Rahman.

In 2020, super cyclonic storm Amphan has claimed at least 20 lives in Bangladesh. The government estimated that the damage from the cyclone to be worth Tk 1,100 crore (nearly $130 million).