1.1 Development Context
Bangladesh is the lower riparian country of some of the largest rivers in the world, namely theGanges, Brahmaputra, and Meghna. The total catchment area of these rivers covers about 1%of the world’s land surface but is home of about 10% of the world’s population. Thisenvironment is characterized by unpredictable dramatic changes, resulting from tectonics alongthe Himalayan Mountains and annual monsoons. The combination of mountain instability andmonsoon formed the large rivers of Bangladesh and is the major driving factor of theirinstability. Dating back to the “Great Assam Earthquake” in 1950, the river system inBangladesh is still adjusting to the entrained sediment loads. This caused substantial wideningof the major rivers, leading to more than 1000 km² loss of land over the last 30 years along theBrahmaputra alone.Since independence, Bangladesh is struggling to counter large-scale river erosion, at leastalong the important places on the banks of the major rivers with little success. Until recently,when the development of a new technology, in combination with indigenous knowledge,largely focusing on prediction, a comprehensive planning framework, and flexibleimplementation achieved successful and cost-effective protection of longer reaches. Based onthese findings and the systematic analysis of the performance of past riverbank protection, newguidelines for riverbank protection were established with the support of BUET. Theperformance analysis of riverbank protection in large rivers plays a major role in thepreparation of these guidelines and makes them a unique document.With a view to developing a specialized course incorporating the key elements of planning,design, and monitoring of river bank erosion works, a PDA proposal was submitted by Bureauof Research Testing and Consultation (BRTC) of Bangladesh University of Engineering andTechnology (BUET) to Asian Development Bank (ADB).
1.2 Related Challenges
With a population in excess of 150 million and an approximate area of 1,50,000 squarekilometers, Bangladesh is now one of the most densely populated countries of the world. Hereper capita arable land is the lowest in the world. On top of that 10,000 hectares of land is lostevery year because of river bank erosion along the major rivers of the country whichexacerbates the problem.The rivers are found to undergo morphological (Cross-section and planform) adjustment. Thisdynamism makes riverbank erosion a devastating hazard in Bangladesh that permanentlydisplaces and impoverishes many people.The associated riverbank erosion is a major destabilizing factor in Bangladesh, affecting theimportant flood protection embankments, human settlements and all other infrastructureincluding road network in the vicinity of the rivers.
1.3 Objectives of the Project
The main objective of this PDA is to develop a specialists’ course at post-graduate level onriverbank protection alongside alluvial rivers, and run a pilot course for testing and refinementbefore working on the mainstreaming of the course into the school curriculum. The secondaryobjectives are to: (i) develop short courses for the engineers & scientists working in watersectors; and (ii) broaden the knowledge base with potentials for incorporation into a regionalknowledge hub.