Protecting against riverbank erosion along the world’s largest rivers is challenging. The Bangladesh Delta, bisected by the Brahmaputra River (also called the Jamuna River), is rife with complexity. Here, an emerging middle-income country with the world’s highest population density coexists with the world’s most unpredictable and largest braided, sand-bed river. Bangladesh has struggled over decades to protect against the onslaught of a continuously widening river corridor. Many of the principles implemented successfully in other parts of the world failed in Bangladesh. To this end, Bangladesh embarked on intensive knowledge-based developments and piloted new technologies. After two decades, successful, sustainable, low-cost riverbank protection technology was developed, suitable for the challenging river conditions. It was necessary to accept that no construction is permanent in this morphologically dynamic environment. What was initially born out of fund shortages became a cost-effective, systematic and adaptive approach to riverbank protection using improved knowledge, new materials, and new techniques, in the form of geobag revetments. This article provides an overview of the challenges faced when attempting to stabilize the riverbanks of the mighty rivers of Bangladesh. An overview of the construction of the major bridge crossings as well as riverbank protection schemes is detailed. Finally, a summary of lessons learned concludes the impressive progress made.
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