Flood Action Plan has played a major role in shaping the focus and manner of focus that the problem of riverbank erosion had as part of the flood problematic. A plethora of literature, in the form of books, pamphlets, brochures, flip charts, educational mapping, pictorials, posters, banners has been printed and published as part of awareness programmer run by the government, its agencies and the Nags. These activities are well appreciated by the international donor community as well.
Even within the intellectual community, still now, there is a tendency to conflate the issues of riverbank erosion with those of flash flood / flooding. Whereas, the two issues are very much different and differences in impacts are often significant for policy makers, especially in countries like Bangladesh. The print media, especially the newspapers fail to report sensitively while damaging the cause of riverbank erosion related displacement, impact and recovery.
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The general understanding of the mass and policy makers as well, is that the problem of riverbank erosion is a natural and eternal one and hence can not be mitigated or differently put, the people affected by riverbank erosion cannot be assisted as these people are supposed to have the natural instincts and ability to cope and adjust with such phenomena as they are doing from time immemorial. Facts – Figures vs..
Policy and intervention An important fact to recognizes is that the problem of riverbank erosion and displacement is no longer an isolated event or a natural phenomenon only and cannot be left alone if there has to be universal education, health care, shelter, ensuring other basic human rights and capping growing poverty. These are interlinked issues and riverbank erosion often dislocates people from their entitlements in a major way by blocking the access to vital services / facilities / amenities and then by taking away the ability to utilizes resources due to trauma / stress / spatial and cultural dislocation.
Landlines and presentation has increased to an alarming proportion. There is good reason to believe that this increasing number of people is directly or indirectly victims of riverbank erosion. Almost a decade ago, a government report by the then Secretary, Ministry of Water Resources, GOB, estimated over 728,000 people as being displaced due to riverbank erosion during 1981-1993 and said annually, 60,000 people are made landless by riverbank erosion.
The ‘SPAN study published in 1995 states almost a similar number of displaced and landless people within the same period. DAB has put the number of riverbank erosion threatened and affected people generation of a projected stateless poor of 28,000 over the next 10 years (27 November 2002, Manila). According to World Disaster Report 2001 published by FRI. very year about 100,000 people are affected by river erosion and 9, 000 hectares if cultivable lands vanish.
Bruce Surrey (1979), a researcher working for several years on riverbank erosion, identified 66 out of 462 pastille of the country as affected and/ or liable to bank erosion. Islam and Raman (1987) found that roughly one million people are directly affected each year by riverbank erosion in the country. The total monetary loss is estimated to be approximately $500 million a year. An estimated 300,000 displaced households usually takes shelter, many for several years, on roads, embankments, and on asks land or on land requisitioned by the government.
In particular, the demographic and socio-economic impact as a result of riverbank erosion significantly affect the condition of the household size, educational attainment, labor force participation and occupational status, land holding and income at both individual and household levels. National Community Resources and Economic Development (CREED) Disaster Database finds cyclones, floods, riverbank erosion, tornados, droughts and earthquakes as major natural disasters that effect Bangladesh. It lists 93 disasters over the period 1986 to 1995. Of these, 40 were yeses and 31 floods.
The cyclone disasters in 1970 (300,000 dead) and 1991 (138,000 dead) are among the worst natural disasters in the world (CREED, 2002). These contrasting and contradictory facts of least efforts for preparedness / mitigation and figures related to affect and displacement prove not only a paucity of research but a lack of a mind-set to recognizes the issue as having consequences of national level and importance. Interestingly, the social scientists, practitioners and media people concerned are yet to understand the differences between the two. These are all due to a lack of general appreciation of the problematic.
For that purpose an advocacy and activism is severely lacking in raise the awareness of the public in general, of the government functionaries, Nags and local level political representatives. Riverbank erosion, as a subject of study and action has not been recognized too many years ago. The disaster literature in Bangladesh and South Asia often dealt with riverbank erosion as part of the composite problematic of flooding. Focusing riverbank erosion and its associated impact as a separate set of problem, new avenues have been created over the last decade and half in the study and identification of the problem itself.
Approaches of search and research into riverbank erosion There are limited numbers of studies on riverbank erosion in Bangladesh focusing on the impact in terms of socio-economic and cultural dislocations of the affected and displaced people living in the river basin areas. Many studies have been commissioned and published in the form of reports or books, essentially dealing with issues like flooding, flood warning mechanism, flood preparation at individual and community level, water and land management, river erosion mitigation, (strategic) resettlement of affected population etc.
During the mid asses, a ground-breaking four year research and information dissemination seminar under the Riverbank Erosion Impact Study (RAISE) Program between University of Manitoba (I-JAM), Canada and the Gangrening University 00) made the difference. The outcome a book published in Bangladesh and several articles in Journals abroad concentrated on erosion and its impact. The effort primarily was about bringing physical and social scientists together in respect to research and providing policy directives.
In so doing, the research and subsequent publications created the most convincing, deliberate ND details treatment of the problematic, a vivid reference book on the issue. Subsequent research has focused on different issues like settlement patterns and associated lifestyles of the people, problems and strategies in resettlement of the displaced, the genre of reaction and indigenous measures of adjustments and coping in the face of displacement and continuous riverbank erosion, refuse in fatalism and power relationship in the remote char areas, mobility around the affected area and towards cities, I. . Rural to urban migration of especially working age people. Few articles in relevant foreign Journals have even concentrated on the aspects of land degradation and mapping of psycho-social stress due to riverbank erosion. The research so far conducted and published in Bangladesh on riverbank erosion can be divided into the following categories in so far as their focus and content is concerned. The books / publications / reports will be dealt with separately since the volume of noteworthy research or search is low. . Studies focusing on the structural / physical aspects (preparedness and mitigation) of riverbank erosion 2. Studies focusing on the functional issues of socio-economic rehabilitation and settlement in the post displacement situation of riverbank erosion 3. Studies focusing on the psycho-social mapping for preparedness and rebuilding of lives 4. Studies with a comprehensive approach covering almost all the aspects 5. Other studies, reports, publications 1 .
Studies focusing on the structural and physical aspects Published in 1998 Peopling in the Land of Allah Jane, Power, Peopling and Environment: The Case of Char Lands of Bangladesh by Abdul Abase deals with the structural aspects of land management and distribution in char societies. The study finds char people as yielding to the power elite too often than not. Due to endemic presentation, increasing decline of ability, affordability and access to services and amenities people become dependent on fate more and more.
Deprivation from elite comes in the package with natural calamity and sudden losses to the river through erosion. According to Abase, peopling of char-lands is rarely a spontaneous event. It is guided and selective. Abase shows a pattern of linkage between natural process and power structure of the society. He relates the entire peopling process with phases of surfacing of the char lands (formation stage, 0-3 years; pioneer stage, 4-7 ears; proliferation stage, 8-12 years; maturity and stabilization stage, 13+ years) and with phases of vegetation on the same.
It is the pattern of land tenancy, existing and changing influence network and relative gains from exploitation of the most deprived and general understanding among the parties involved that shape peopling in the char-lands. The study areas included eight chars situated in the river Pad from Pad-Jejuna confluence to the Pathname confluence and under the Districts of Dacha, Purifier and Imagining. This alluvial area revealed that the process of peopling chars gives rise to violent fights.
The process of peopling of char lands is dependent on the fertility and vitality of the soil of the particular char. Char occupancy and legal entitlement to land does not corroborate with each other. It is overlooked in the interest of local power distribution by elite and local administration as well. Delineating the issue, Abase discussed the legal aspects and lists the existing laws in relation presented chronologically: The Bengal Alluvial and Dilution Regulation of 1825 The East Bengal State Acquisition and Tenancy Act of 1950 (Section 86 and 87) Presidential Order No. 2 of 1972 Presidential Order No. 35 of 1972; and Presidential Order No. 137 of 1972 (Ordinance LSI of 1975) The study argues that the prevalence of disputes arising out of the settlement process in chars is greater where power is polarize in more than one person or group than where power is concentrated in only one sights (members of a group based on kinship). Revering Chars in Bangladesh: Environmental Dynamics and Management Issues, published by the Environment and GIS Support Project for Water Sector Planning (EGGS) and PULP in 2000.
The Irrigation Support Project for Asia and the Near East (SPAN) (covering the area extending from the border of India long the Ganges and the Jejuna through the Pad and Lower Meghan as far as the southern edge of the Hill than of Baristas District) under the Flood Action Plan supporting studies 16 (environmental Study) and 19 (Geographic Information System), published a series of reports in 1995. This book is based on scientific data from the ‘SPAN study and further analysis on previous research works, especially on Jejuna basin.
Climatic changes are expected to increase seasonal variation in precipitation and thus in river flows implying higher maximum and lower minimum flows. The increased variations stimulate erosion and accretion process. Increasing floods, higher water levels, lower slopes of rivers contribute to char formation and widening rivers. Lower slopes and sedimentation further decreases transport capacity of the rivers. Bangladesh is geologically active and tectonic subsidence continues. Due to shifting rivers, earthquakes huge amount of sediment gets dumped into the river system.
Again, upstream development continues. All of the above factors will influence river and char dynamics in the future leading to an intensification of river erosion. The socio-economic activities of the char inhabitants are intimately related to the land use potential within the chars. There is variation in fertility of char land based on location. In general, the chars in the lower reach of the Jejuna are more stable than the ones in the upper reach of the river. Furthermore, chars in the upper reach of the river are more vulnerable to floods than the ones in the lower reach.
The book notes that mobility of riverbank erosion affected or threatened people are very limited. “The majority of the people interviewed by ERA team had lived in chars for several generations. If they had moved, it was within groups of local chars of the 89 irrationalities households interviewed by the Flood Response Study and Riverbank Erosion Impact Study indicate that such moves are within small areas, usually about agriculture. The intensity with which agriculture can be pursued on a char depends very much on the stage of its development (one may recall the stages of char development described by Abase).
Farming occupations include both owner cultivation as well as sharecropping. Wage labor is also used in various agriculture operations. The book elaborates on the need for transparent policy on land issues. When char households are affected by land erosion, and are forced to move out of their areas, they prefer to move within parts of the river familiar to them. As reported in the ‘SPAN study, the law on landownership in the context of erosion and accretion states that when the land belonging to an individual gets eroded and resurfaces at a later stage, the newly emerged land becomes the property of the government.
To effectively overcome this problem, often local leaders / owners use different techniques to keep and maintain possession of the land. These include several types of resistance: ay rent / land tax and avoid attention exert influence with the surveyors from the AC Land’s office when land resurfaces people pay back dated taxes to the government powerful people even pay taxes and change title of the land to grab the newly accreted land thereby legalizing it Char people feel that tax rates should be lower as land in chars is often less productive and takes a huge cost to irrigate them.
A unique feature of the book is that it presents rare satellite imagery of chars in a manner understandable to the laymen. It also gives a holistic idea of the problematic covering physical, structural, socio-economic and psycho-social aspects of impact of riverbank erosion and related displacement in the river basin areas. Jejuna-Meghan River Erosion Mitigation Project: Summary Resettlement Framework and Resettlement Plan.
The Jejuna- Meghan River Erosion Mitigation Project in Bangladesh aims to protect the livelihoods of 2 million people living within two flood protection and irrigation project areas. The Bangladesh Water Development Board (BAWD), Dad’s Executing Agency for the project, proposes to establish a sustainable, reliable and cost-effective riverbank erosion management system. BAWD identified a 1. 2-kilometer secondary defense line (OSDL) of embankments to protect critical sections in the Pain Irrigation and Rural Development Project area.
Strip land acquisition for the OSDL will affect 33 households. BAWD prepared a short resettlement plan to address these effects. Location and impacts of further revetment works along the Jejuna and Meghan rivers will be identified during the final design stage based on the rivers’ morphological development. BAWD also prepared a resettlement framework to address the involuntary resettlement effects that may be identified during project implementation. The involuntary resettlement safeguard measures adopted by BAWD for this project are summarized in this report. . Studies focusing on the functional issues of socio-economic rehabilitation and Strategic Plan to Mitigate Riverbank Erosion Disaster in Bangladesh by Muhammad Z Amman and A T M Unruly Main, focuses and develops the idea of dense settlement and resettlement of displaced people in a safer zone. The research was carried out in one of the richest commercial hubs in the region and now one of the most affected by riverbank erosion, the Hazily apical of the Baristas District. Scarcity of land is a severe problem in rural Bangle.