Resident perceptions of riverbank erosion and shoreline protection: a mixed-methods case study from Bangladesh

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Riverbank erosion is a common hazard in Bangladesh, posing a significant threat to homes, properties, and livelihoods. In recent years, the government of Bangladesh has intensified efforts to mitigate riverbank erosion by hardening shorelines, including the building of concrete revetments, but the local dynamics of these interventions are not well documented. To address this, we present results from a study of community-level response to a 2-mile long concrete revetment recently constructed in the administrative district of Ramgati, in the lower Meghna River basin of Bangladesh. Our study combines quantitative analysis of data from a household survey with qualitative data from semi-structured interviews to assess resident perceptions of the new revetment and its effect on the landscape of riverbank erosion hazard. The study finds, firstly, that hazard awareness is widespread but may be influenced by livelihood factors related to the dynamics of displacement and resettlement. Second, we find that that the negative impacts of riverbank erosion vary spatially. Hazard perception in Ramgati is significantly influenced by the physical location of the household, with those residing closer to the river and in unprotected zones north and south of the revetment expressing much greater worry that they will lose their homes, and believing that this will happen much sooner than residents further away or in the zone now protected by the embankment. As an empirically grounded case study, our findings add to the literature on riverbank erosion in Bangladesh and perception studies focused on water-based hazards in similar settings globally.

Riverbank erosion, Hazard perception, Bangladesh, Revetment