Floods in Bangladesh; support from Wageningen UR highlighted in Nature

Published on
April 17, 2014

Bangladesh is a dynamic delta, in which fighting poverty and economic development go hand in hand with fighting population pressure and climate variability and change challenges. For instance the Ganges–Brahmaputra delta is sinking continuously, the race is on to protect millions of people from future flooding.

To provide insight in complex delta planning and management related topics, Wageningen UR works closely together with various partners in Bangladesh in a number of research and capacity development projects. To support these activities the Wageningen UR Project Office Dhaka was established in 2011. Catharien Terwisscha van Scheltinga (Alterra Wageningen UR) is director of the Project Office, which is hosted by the Institute of Water Modelling (IWM).

Towards a sustainable strategy

In March 2014, the contract for the formulation of the Bangladesh Delta Plan 2100 was signed. The plan will be the start of a long-term collaboration in the areas of delta management, food security and delta technology. A consortium of Dutch and Bangladeshi organisations will be formulating a delta plan for Bangladesh. In the upcoming 30 months, the consortium will develop a sustainable and supported strategy, in combination with an implementation plan, to cope with the water-related problems in the country. Wageningen UR will lead the overall knowledge programme of the Delta Team and will directly contribute in the areas of land use, climate change and adaptation.

Alterra is helping

Alterra researcher Catharien Terwisscha van Scheltinga is helping to prepare the Bangladesh Delta Plan 2100. In the Nature article ‘Floods: Holding back the tide’ she stated: "Researchers need to quantify and map that complexity if policy-makers are to stand a chance of addressing the problems” and “The uncertainty in the science makes it difficult for policy-makers to see how much investment is justified, and what kind".

An important issue to consider in these problems is the development of adaptation measures at different spatial scales. To aid policy makers in handling uncertainty in their decision making, good Knowledge and proper presentation and visualisation of future change are essential to plan for future changes in flood risks and food security. To support Bangladesh in these complex tasks and ensuring the implementation of such policies, Wageningen UR, together with other partners also develops new BSc and MSc Programmes on e.g. “Adaptation and Disaster Management in the water sector related to climate change” at the Dhaka University of Engineering and Technology, and on “Scenario Development on Integrated Water Resource Management” at the Bangladesh University of Engineering and Technology.