Webinar on Riverbank erosion in South Asia

TROSA and partners Earth Journalism Network (EJN) under Internews Europe organized a 1-day media webinar on 25 September to raise awareness and a shared understanding among journalists of South Asia on the problem of riverbank erosion, its causes and impacts and to facilitate information exchange. The webinar provided a unique opportunity for an interface between journalists and experts in the region and shared tips on leveraging satellite imagery to support better storytelling on the topic. The webinar was attended by 63 people who consisted of largely journalists, students and researchers based in South Asia. 

Two academician speakers from India (Prof Chandan Mahanta IIT Guwhati) and Bangladesh ( Prof. Md Mansur Rahman, IWFM, BUET) first explained the science and causes of riverbank erosion, its impacts to the environment and lives of the communities living on the riverbanks, and the potential solutions to mitigate these impacts. A satellite imagery expert Mr Edward Boyda, Earthrise Media) spoke about how journalists could use satellite images to track riverbank erosion and its impacts on migration for reporting. Finally, Mr Navin Singh Khadka from the BBC spoke about the linkages between riverbank erosion, climate change and the implications of the environmental crisis.

Riverbank erosion is increasing in scale and intensity across Asia. Climate change impacts such as high-intensity rainfall events, glacier melt, flash floods and other development projects-related changes like unregulated sand and riverbed mining, and infrastructure development are further exacerbating the problem.

Increasing accounts of riverbank erosion are being reported in the region, for example, from the Kutiyabar area in Mahakali region Nepal, where the Jogbudha river eroded 700 meters of land, inundating settlements and putting tens of families at risk in just a few days of intense rain. Likewise, Bangladesh, home to 700 rivers totalling 24,140 kilometres in length is facing unprecedented challenges for communities living in its drought and flood-prone topography. Along with 6 million climate refugees, around 12 million of the 19.4 million children most affected by climate change, live in and around the powerful river systems which flow through Bangladesh and are regularly affected greatly by river erosion. Coastal residents in Bangladesh are losing their homes and farmland at an astonishing rate due to riverbank erosion, which affects roughly 1 million people and displaces 50,000 to 200,000 every year.