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Natural dams to hold back sea

River embankments were badly damaged by Cyclone Sidr, which devastated much of Bangladesh's southwestern coastal areas on 15 November 2007 - killing over 3,000 and rendering millions homeless.
(David Swanson/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.



mw/pt/mw


This article was produced by IRIN News while it was part of the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs. Please send queries on copyright or liability to the UN. For more information: https://shop.un.org/rights-permissions

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