Hydro-Social Deltas


The project includes two studies in Bangladesh on the interactions and feedbacks between water and human systems, especially on the relationships between disaster risk reduction and development as well as a comparison with the Dutch approach to hydro-social living.

PhD student Ruknul Ferdous’ main objective is to understand the dynamic interactions between hydrological and social processes in rural floodplains in Bangladesh. Here, most people are regularly affected by flooding and riverbank erosion. In turn, changes in land use (due to demographic shifts and livelihood changes) and other human interventions (dams, polders) affect the hydrological process of the area. The research is developing hypotheses about the behaviour of the Brahmaputra floodplain as interdependent human-water system, and tests these hypotheses by spatial and temporal modelling to see if co-evolution between human and water systems can be detected. Some preliminary findings are explained in this video.

As part of this research, the MSc study by Md Mizanur Rahman compared investment preparedness between the well-protected town Sirajganj and the less well-protected town Gaibandha.

Postdoc researcher Hasan Ashraf as a social sciences focus. He is identifying how the social processes driving peri-urban settlement in Dhaka are changing the levels and distribution of flood risk within the city and across society unities. Questions are for example:

  • How does migration increase or decrease vulnerability and reduce or displace risk, either over time or space, redistributing flood risk between the protected urban areas and unprotected peri-urban areas outside the defences?
  • What is the interaction between structural flood interventions and vulnerability? 
  • How do non-regularised (new and more established) arrivals gain access to basic services, property rights and urban flood protection when not included in flood protection measures; how do migrants cope with and exploit economic and governance opportunities?

Post-doctoral researcher Anna Wesselink is working with all project members in order to integrate research findings from Bangladesh and The Netherlands. She is focussing on:

She supervised MSc research to look at how flows of people in the Netherlands impact Dutch flood resilience. This has resulted in two MSc theses:

Our partner Flood Hazard Research Centre Bangladesh complemented the above research with a study on the influence of local institutions and infrastructure on migration and flood-erosion hazards.