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Unformatted text preview: Journal of Identity and Migration Studies Volume 1, number 2, 2007 82 Coping with Floods: Does Rural-Urban Migration Play any Role for Survival in rural Bangladesh? Israt RAYHAN and Ulrike GROTE Abstract. At the time of flooding, rural people in Bangladesh cannot manage the lingering effects of labor market disruptions, price fluctuations, and consumption deficiency. As a consequence, kin groups, lineages or even entire villages shift from their home to nearby big urban areas. To assess the efficacy of migration, a cross sectional household survey was carried out two weeks after a flood in four districts of Bangladesh in the year 2005. In total, 595 rural households were interviewed based on fully structured questionnaires. The results show that the decision to migrate is often guided by the aspiration to replenish asset values damaged by the flood. Thus, rural-urban migration emerges as a source of credit. Inclusion of social networks plays an important role during flood crisis to get information about the host areas. In financing livelihoods during floods, landless or poor people incur informal debts from the money lenders; this in turn accumulated by the consecutive years of flooding, leave a shadow of default and liquidation over many vulnerable households. The rural-urban migration allows potentially vulnerable households to avoid a debt cycle. Keywords : Bangladesh, Flood, Coping, Migration, Vulnerability 1. Introduction Bangladesh consists mostly of a low-lying river delta with over 230 rivers and tributaries, situated between the foothills of the Himalayas and the Bay of Bengal. With a population of almost 124 million people and an area of roughly 148,000 square km, Bangladesh is one of the world’s most densely populated countries (839 persons per square km) 27 . The combination of its geography, population density, and extreme poverty makes Bangladeshi people very vulnerable to risks and disasters. Flood is a frequent catastrophe for Bangladeshi people. In the year 1987, about 40 percent of the country was flooded, affecting 30 million people and 27 Bangladesh Bureau of Statistics, Population Census 2001, published July 2003. Does Rural-Urban Migration Play any Role for Survival in rural Bangladesh? JIMS - Volume 1, number 2, 2007 83 causing about 1,800 deaths. The floods in 1988 were even more serious, covering about 60 percent of the land area, affecting about 45 million people, and causing more than 2,300 deaths 28 . In 1998, over 68 percent of the country was inundated 29 and caused about 2,380 deaths. In 2000 and 2002, floods affected approximately 20 million people. In the year 2004, a devastating monsoon flood submerged two-thirds of the country; close to 36 million people were affected, 726 died, and millions of people were made homeless 30 ....
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