In 1998,“the flood of the century” covered more than two-thirds of Bangladesh, causing crop losses of 2.04 million tons of rice, an amount equal to 10.45 percent of target production in 1998/99. This flood threatened the health and lives of millions through food shortages caused by crop failure, loss of purchasing power, and the spread of water-borne disease. Yet very few flood-related deaths occurred, and reportedly none was due to food shortages. This report, based on data from a survey of 757 rural households in seven flood-affected regions (thanas) conducted in November and December 1998 and on analysis of secondary data on food grain markets, describes how Government of Bangladesh policy, well-functioning private markets, household coping strategies, and donor and NGO interventions combined to avert a major food crisis. To further enhance its food security, Bangladesh needs continued investments in agricultural research, extension, roads, electricity and other rural infrastructure, policies promoting efficient markets, and programs to provide targeted transfers and credit to poor households.


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