August 01, 2004
DHAKA, Bangladesh: Mahmuda Khatun left her flood shelter in a small boat loaded with empty water containers, prowled her inundated neighborhood for a while, and came back empty-handed. 'No one had any water to give us,' she said.
With 40 per cent of her city flooded, water is everywhere, but it is mixed in with sewage and undrinkable. The disaster, experts say, is largely man-made. Bangladesh and its capital, Dhaka, lie in a flood plain, and annual deluges from mighty rivers fed by monsoon rains and melting Himalayan snow are natural.
But deforestation of distant mountains washes topsoil downhill and silts up the rivers that are supposed to channel the floodwater into the Bay of Bengal.