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Stemming the flood

Hiba Khan keeps people's homes safe from flooding and erosion.

Hiba Khan

I'm Hiba. I work at Mott MacDonald, and I'm an engineer on a mission to keep people safe and healthy by protecting their homes and environments.

The project I think that means the most to me is the one that I'm still working on at the moment. It's a project in Bangladesh and it's to combat river erosion. In Bangladesh 20 percent of the country floods every single year on average. They've got these huge rivers. They're like 16 kilometres wide. They can erode 900 metres over the year. That's like a whole village has just fallen into the river all of a sudden, which obviously is catastrophic for health.

So our project aims to reduce that riverbank erosion by stopping it in certain places. The great thing about the project for people's health is that once you stop the water coming in and stop their houses flooding you don't get as much standing water which obviously is a breeding ground for mosquitos, malaria and all sorts of diseases. Also if the roads are there and permanent they can always get medical supplies in and take people out who need help.

This is one of the things that we use a lot on site. It's called a geo bag. So Bangladesh doesn't have many rocks, and normally you'd use rocks to stop riverbank erosion, but we have to make our own. We fill these with sand, we stitch the top, and we push then out of barges and they fall in layers underwater to protect against erosion.

Engineering makes me really happy. It was really important to me to feel like I'm part of something that's working towards the greater good, and I really feel like that in engineering. You can see what you've done at the end of the project, which is great.


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