Riverbank erosion in North-West Bangladesh How far are we from good management system?

Internally displaced persons (IDPs) is quiet unknown term but year by year a large number of people in Bangladesh are being internally displaced by riverbank erosion. With several river Jamuna, Tista, Dharla, and Dhudkumar- flowing through, the northwest region of Bangladesh is particularly prone to such erosion. They displace and push household into extremely difficult situation unable to reverse.
In IDP cases, some are forced to migrate and settle in new city or village even in more disaster prone area, such as char. Yet, Riverbank erosion does not draw the attention the policy makers and the media in a way that other natural disaster do.

There are several types of erosion having different name of each that helps the local to understand the nature of erosion.

Chapa bhanga: During rainy season, when rivers overflow, roughly 2/3 hand length and widths soil portion are broken.
This type is less harmful because of its slow procedure and gives time to save our home structure.

Bhanga: Generally parcels of land of 1/2 bighas are washed away in a very short time. It creates a large sound that people from a long distance can hearsound. When bhanga starts people hardly get times to save their household except their life.

Haria Bhanga: In down side of Jamuna river around the area of Sirajganj, Shariotpur and Faridpur. This bhanga
occur in few meter below the surface. In the process of one stage a big mass of land hangs above without any support. One day it collapse Furthermore there are different kind of bhanga like ‘Chechra’, ‘Nishsi’, ‘Bhurbhuri’ etc.
To counter river erosion we need four phrases.

Preparational phase:

  • A team of three or four member can regularly monitor the activities of the river during the critical periods of the year. To assess early warning sign. In certain cases channel out water through excavation of old channel beds could be a solution.
  • The victims of riverbank erosion often lack of resources to cope with post disaster situation. Savings for fast sifting and emergency supply of food are important.

Disaster management phase:

  • Short evacuating notice of victim with their property become difficult and sometime they don’t have enough money, social network,boats to mobilize support. There is a tendency of people to stay at the disaster area until the last moment. Under this circumstances rapid response team should be prepared to efficiently provide medicine, mobile health care and proper logistic support to the victims.

Rehabilitation phase:

  • Respondents found that most victims move into a more vulnerable location than previous one. In order to optimize the support through networking with NGOs; Government can find a better settlement area with income generating activities.
  • Char areas need housing with specific structural designs that are easy to dismantle and shift. Concerned agencies of government have to take liabilities for consulting about their livelihood according to their new settlement.
    Livelihood Management Phase:
  • Government can introduce insurance scheme at soft premium.
  • Government agencies responsible for food and medical (Medicine and doctors specially gynaecologist) to coordinate its activities with NGOs that are engaged with associated sector.
  • Location sites often remain difficult to reach due to adverse environment. So proper vehicle like big speed boat are highly needed for rescue team and victim people.