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Discussion papers | Copyright
© Author(s) 2018. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.

Research article 03 Jan 2018

Research article | 03 Jan 2018

Review status
This discussion paper is a preprint. It is a manuscript under review for the journal Hydrology and Earth System Sciences (HESS).

Socio-hydrological spaces in the Jamuna River floodplain in Bangladesh

Md Ruknul Ferdous1, Anna Wesselink1, Luigia Brandimarte2, Kymo Slager3, Margreet Zwarteveen1, and Giuliano Di Baldassarre4 Md Ruknul Ferdous et al.
  • 1Department of Integrated Water Systems & Governance, IHE Delft Institute for Water Education, 2611 AX, Delft, The Netherlands
  • 2Kungliga Tekniska Högskolan (KTH), SE-100 44, Stockholm, Sweden
  • 3Deltares, 2600 MH, Delft, The Netherlands
  • 4Department of Earth Sciences, Uppsala University, 75236 Uppsala, Sweden

Abstract. In this paper, we propose a concept that captures the different socio-hydrological patterns that result from different societal choices on how to deal with rivers, floods and erosion: socio-hydrological spaces. Socio-hydrology aims to understand the dynamics and co-evolution of coupled human-water systems. Our proposed concept will help to understand the detailed human-water interactions in a specific location. This paper uses a socio-hydrological approach to describe human-flood interactions in the Jamuna floodplain, Bangladesh. In this vast space (a braided river bed of 6–16km) the differences between land and water are temporary and shifting. To illustrate how the concept can be used, we first classified and identified socio-hydrological spaces and then validated through the analysis of primary data (household surveys and focus group discussions) and secondary data (statistics, maps etc.) that were collected in 2015 and 2016. The principal set of primary data consists of approx. 900 questionnaires on several themes: flooding, riverbank erosion, social processes of the study area. The concept of SHS draws attention to how historical patterns in the co-evolution of social behaviour, natural processes and technological adoptions give rise to different landscapes, different style of living, and different ways of organizing livelihoods. However, we contend that this concept could be used in other places and for other socio-hydrological systems than floodplains.

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Md Ruknul Ferdous et al.
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Short summary
Socio-hydrological space (SHS) is a concept that enriches the study of socio-hydrology because it helps understand the detailed human-water interactions in a specific location. The concept suggests that the interactions between society and water are place bound because of differences in social processes and river dynamics. This would be useful for developing interventions under disaster management, but also other development goals. SHS provides a new way of looking at socio-hydrological systems.
Socio-hydrological space (SHS) is a concept that enriches the study of socio-hydrology because...