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Bangladesh: Natural dams to hold back sea


By: IRIN News

Women forming a group to fetch safe drinking water from somewhere where a tubewell has not sunken below rising flood waters, Bangladesh
DHAKA, 8 October 2010 (IRIN) - The Bangladesh government is preparing to construct three “cross dams” that can catch free-flowing sediment in a bid to save 500km of land that would otherwise be submerged with rising sea levels.

The sea will dump sediment on 17 percent of the country’s land mass by 2050, making it uninhabitable, according to estimates by the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.

Sandwiched between two islands, the cross dam traps sediment to form a mud-packed natural barrier to hold back some of the two billion tons of sediment that comes from regional river basins. Unobstructed, this deposit is dumped downstream in the Bay of Bengal where Bangladesh is located.

“Effective measures to hold the sediment can give rise to a good amount of land,” said Hafizur Rahman, the government’s project director.

Construction is expected to begin this year on the first of the three dams to be built in Noakhali district, 165km southeast of the capital Dhaka, at a cost of US$5.34 million.

Communities will not be displaced by dam construction, said Zahir-ul Haque Khan, director of coast, port and estuary management for the governmental Institute of Water Modelling, which has studied the dams’ potential impacts.

Rahman estimated 15,000 landless families could be settled on the newly cleared land.


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