People of Many Rivers: Tales from the Riverbanks gives a unique insight into the lives of the riverine people of Bangladesh, to their dreams and aspiration – and their daily fight for survival. It is a call to the Government for a responsible water management that takes into account the life and livelihood of all citizens.

From stories of resilience to stories of resistance People of Many Rivers is a compilation of 32 voices from people living on the shores of the Padma and the Teesta river in Northern Bangladesh.

The overall theme of the book is the impact of the present poor water management by the Governments of the South Asian countries. The water bureaucrats have implemented policies and practices built on the notion of water being an unlimited resource one can tap into with no consequences for the rivers, the land it is flowing through and its people.

Dams are built, hydroelectric power stations developed, embankments raised with little or no consideration of the natural flow of the water and the livelihood of the people most directly depending upon it.

The result is heart-breaking, deeply unfair and unsustainable. Millions of small farmers, fisher folk and boat people dependent on the freely flowing and shared water resources are left with limited or no livelihood options at all. Tahasen Ali, fisherman from Rajshahi, says:

If there is no water, there’ll be no farming, no fishing, no bathing; how shall we survive?

Governments, private sector and ordinary citizens cannot afford to turn a blind eye to the fact that mismanagement of our common water resources damages the life of human beings and our common future.

People of Many Rivers is edited by Dr. Imtiaz Ahmed, Professor at the University of Dhaka. The 32 stories and the accompanying photographs are collected by ActionAid Bangladesh staff committed to challenging poverty and exclusion. The book is part of ActionAid’s multi-country water commons campaign across Nepal, India, Pakistan and Bangladesh calling for a responsible water management that recognises that the right of the rivers must be codified and guaranteed by the State and the people.

Publisher: ActionAid Bangladesh & The University Press Limited (UPL). Price: 1500 BDT

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