Water Management Officials from Bangladesh visit SERVIR Coordination Office

Published: Aug 27 2014

Dr. M. Monowar Hossain,  Executive Director of  the Institute of Water Modelling (IWM) in Bangladesh, and Zahir-ul- Haque Khan,  Director of the IWM Coast Port and Estuary Management Division, visited the SERVIR Coordination Office at NASA Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Alabama, 22 August 2014. They spoke at a special seminar about water-related problems the small, densely populated country of Bangladesh faces, and how IWM seeks to manage these problems.

"We are a very small country with a huge population -- 160 million people – and that makes life difficult," said Hossain. "Flooding is our top agenda. IWM deals with water issues in a holistic way, offering flood forecasting and alerts, erosion forecasting, and more."

Bangladesh drains a huge volume of water in just 5 months (June – October). In a "normal" year, close to one third of the country is under flood waters. In addition, the flood water contains sewage and other pollutants that impact human health. And severity of flooding is increasing.

"You can imagine the suffering," continued Hossain. "Yet we can't change our topography."

 IWM Special Seminar
Zahir-ul-Haque Khan (rt), Bangladesh Institute of Water Modeling Director
of Coast Port and Estuary Management Division, talks with
Mohammad Z. Al-Hamdan, a Senior Research Scientist at Marshall,
following the IWM seminar  

Bangladesh is very flat, and lies just above sea level.

"90 percent of the flood waters originate outside our borders," noted Hossain. "There are 57 rivers feeding into our country, and 54 of them flow through India. But there is little data sharing from India."

Hossain told the audience about a Jason-2 satellite-based flood forecasting system SERVIR has provided to the Flood Forecast and Warning Center (FFWC) in Bangladesh to overcome this issue and improve lead times for flood alerts. Warnings are currently issued 3 to 5 days in advance, while Jason-2 will provide 8 days lead time. The Jason-2 system, which bases forecasts on altimetry data, is being used experimentally this year in preparation for operational use next year.

Jason-2's radar altimeter measures the precise distance between the satellite and the river surface at points where the satellite crosses overhead.This data, available almost immediately, reveals the river's height at the point of crossing, so flood risks downstream can be assessed.

 IWM visitors and Dan Irwin
SERVIR Project Director Dan Irwin (ctr), with Bangladesh IWM Director of
Coast Port and Estuary Management Division Zahir-ul-Haque Khan (left),
and IWM Executive Director Monowar Hossain  

"We have had very encouraging results so far," said Hossain. "I think it is going to … really benefit the common people. The 8-day lead time is key."


SERVIR is a jointly funded USAID / NASA  project that helps developing countries use information provided by Earth observing satellites and geospatial technologies to manage climate risks and support sustainable development.

IWM (http://www.iwmbd.org) is a trust organization established by the Government of Bangladesh in 1996 to function as a Center of Excellence and Learning in the field of water resources management. The applications of IWM modeling tools cover a range of water related areas, including flood control and flood forecasting, irrigation and drainage, river morphology, urban water supply and management, climate change modeling, salinity and sediment transport, coastal hydraulics, port, coast and estuary management, environmental impact assessment, bridge hydraulics and related infrastructure development.

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