On Bangladesh's river islands, villagers contend with treacherous flash flooding, yet depend on water for jute farming, commerce, transportation, and recreation.
It's the fifth largest river in the world. In India it's known as the Bramaputra. Once it crosses into Bangladesh it's called the Jamuna (and the first bridge across the Jamuna River – a span of five kilometers -- wasn't built until 1998). Whatever you call it, monsoons combined with snow and glacier melt upstream bring stunning amounts of water and silt through Bangladesh. This causes rivers to become shallower and wider, triggering extensive riverbank erosion, washing away entire islands (called "chars"), while creating new ones overnight. This keeps the residents here, among the poorest in Bangladesh, on their toes, both figuratively and literally.
Despite the danger and poverty, I was struck by the beauty of the landscape and the joy the residents show in their daily lives. Their obvious comfort with the water bespeaks a community that is resilient and adaptable, qualities that will give them a comparative advantage as we all face the new climate reality.