Dhaka, Bangladesh
Vast lands go down gorges of rivers

Vast lands go down gorges of rivers

Devastating floods, dangerous erosion

Mazharul Islam Mitchel: Bangladesh loses around 2,270 hectares of land this year due to riverbank erosion, a study report says, because of strong pulls by receding floodwaters. Center for Environmental and Geographic Information Services (CEGIS) reports that about 700 rivers, including their tributaries, flow through Bangladesh, constituting a waterway of a total length of around 24,140 kilometres. Every year in Bangladesh, riverbank erosion leads to millions of people being affected as it results in damage and loss of crops, cattle, housing structures, and farmland, says the report. Riverbank erosion across the country has taken serious turn following devastating floods in some areas, rendering lakhs of people homeless. Besides, the erosion by receding flows is also destroying crop lands, government establishments, non-governmental offices and educational establishments. Experts pin the blame for this worst situation on climate change. According to Bangladesh Water Development Board (BWDB) the most erosion-prone districts are Bogura, Sirajganj, Kurigram, Lalmonirhat, Gaibandha and Rangpur, in the country's north, and Chandpur, Manikganj, Rajbari, Shariatpur, and Faridpur in Dhaka zone, with Tangail and Jamalpur in Mymensingh zone, and the coastal areas of Patuakhali. The most erosion-prone area in Bangladesh is Sirajganj, which faced a total land erosion at a rate of 622.2 hactors, according to the CEGIS study. CEGIS has predicted 22 probable vulnerable locations for this year along both banks of the Jamuna, the Ganges and the Padma rivers which are vulnerable to riverbank erosion. Riverbank erosion can take place, both, during flooding and when and after the water recedes. An environment specialist, Abdul Mazid, says that, additionally, it washes away public infrastructures and communications systems. The unpredictable shifting behavior of the rivers and their encroachments not only affect the rural-floodplain population but also the urban growth centers and infrastructures. Mentioning the long-term effect of climate change on river erosion Abdul Mazid said, "Riverbank erosion often causes loss of crops, seeds and agricultural land, which may affect the quality and quantity of the harvest and exacerbate food insecurity." Another specialist suggests the government of Bangladesh and international NGOs must prioritize the quick restoration of livelihoods across erosion affected areas. "They must be more proactive in identifying urgent food security and livelihood projects that will provide income-generating opportunities for communities, as well as reestablish assets." says environmentalist Prof Nazrul Islam.

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