MANILA, PHILIPPINES – The Asian Development Bank (ADB) will fund state-of-the-art riverbank protection measures in Bangladesh to prevent land erosion, which is destroying livelihoods and costing the economy an estimated $250 million a year.
An ADB multitranche loan financing facility of $255 million will help put in place riverbank protection structures and embankments along vulnerable portions of the Jamuna, Padma, and Ganges rivers—the country’s main waterways.
Low-lying Bangladesh is one of the most vulnerable countries in the world to floods and erosion, with up to 6,000 hectares of land swallowed up annually. About 100,000 mostly poor rural people lose land, crops and even homes each year as a result.
“Sand-filled geotextile bags piled in layers will help prevent riverbank erosion more cheaply and more effectively than conventional structures using concrete or stones,” said Natsuko Totsuka, water specialist with ADB’s South Asia Department. “We have already tried out this technology with much success elsewhere in Bangladesh.”
The facility will also strengthen management of flood and erosion risks, and teach local communities to operate and maintain flood and riverbank protection infrastructure. The first tranche loan of $65 million will target badly needed structural and improvements in three high-priority areas. ADB will provide the remainder of the $255 million in subsequent loan tranches.
On top of ADB’s funds, the Government of the Netherlands will provide cofinancing of $15.3 million, with the Government of Bangladesh supplying counterpart funds of $103.4 million for the investment program.
ADB also this week approved two separate loans to Bangladesh to modernize the country’s large irrigation systems and to protect coastal towns from the ravages of natural disasters and climate change.
A loan of $46 million will help Bangladesh realize the full potential and sustainability of its large-scale irrigation schemes by upgrading aging infrastructure and transferring management and operations to private operators.
Another loan of $52 million—supported by combined cofinancing of $42 million from the Strategic Climate Fund and the Water Financing Partnership Facility—will help eight vulnerable secondary coastal towns build up their climate resilience and provide examples for improved urban disaster preparedness. Coastal areas of the country, with a population of over 38 million people, are heavily exposed to cyclones, storm surges, and sea level rises, which appear to have become more frequent and extreme with the onset of climate change.