|NHC's Riverbank Protection Work in Bangladesh Featured in International Media
Two recent news reports by respected international media outlets bring attention to Northwest Hydraulic Consultants' work on erosion control projects in Bangladesh. Bangladesh is a lowland and flood prone country that conveys runoff from the Himalayas. Only slightly smaller than New York State, it has a population of over 150 million, so all land is precious. River erosion that accompanies flooding can displace hundreds of thousands of people annually.
Since 2000, NHC has been the lead consultant supporting the Government of Bangladesh to plan, design, and manage construction of an extensive river erosion protection program on the major rivers of Bangladesh. This work is funded by both the Asian Development Bank (Manila, Philippines) and World Bank (Washington, DC).
Although rock riprap would be the common material for erosion protection, it is very expensive as it must be imported from outside the country using foreign currency. NHC has been at the forefront of developing an alternative technology, a low cost solution to the erosion problem. Developed through experimentation in the late 1990s and early 2000s, the approach employs labour and sand, which are both inexpensive in Bangladesh. Now, much of the erosion protection is being provided through use of "geobags", which are sand-filled geotextile bags that can be placed on riverbanks and bridge abutments as protection against erosion. This approach is proving quite effective.
The two recent news reports by Al Jazeera and The Economist bring attention to the use of geobags on NHC's projects. As the Economist article notes, application of the technology has been led from the beginning by Knut Oberhagemann, an NHC Principal based in Dhaka, Bangladesh. Many other staff members from NHC's Canadian and US offices have also been involved with this program over the past 14 years. The reports can be seen at:
Al Jazeera video link
The Economist - Taming the Brahmaputra
Journal article - Geotextile Bag Revetments for Large Rivers in Bangladesh