The Sandbank People of Bangladesh


August 01, 2012 14:25 EDT

Chars are inhabited sandbanks in the Brahmaputra river that crosses Bangladesh from north to south. The chars comprise less than 1.5% of the country’s total land area but accommodate an estimated 5% of its population. Some char settlements only last one or two monsoons after which they disappear into the river and the inhabitants move to another one. Others, like Chauhali char, have been inhabited for two or more generations, have areas of up to tens of square kilometers and have more permanent infrastructure.

Like on most of the larger chars, the daily economy of the char bashi or char dwellers on Chauhali and elsewhere is based on subsistence agriculture, small-time animal husbandry and pond and river fisheries. The majority of the households on Chauhali char are quasi-landless in the sense that they own less than half an acre of land. There is, however, also a small middle group on the char that owns enough land to rent to the landless or to hire landless manpower.


Only Fair Observer members can comment. Please login to comment.

Leave a comment

Support Fair Observer

We rely on your support for our independence, diversity and quality.

For more than 10 years, Fair Observer has been free, fair and independent. No billionaire owns us, no advertisers control us. We are a reader-supported nonprofit. Unlike many other publications, we keep our content free for readers regardless of where they live or whether they can afford to pay. We have no paywalls and no ads.

In the post-truth era of fake news, echo chambers and filter bubbles, we publish a plurality of perspectives from around the world. Anyone can publish with us, but everyone goes through a rigorous editorial process. So, you get fact-checked, well-reasoned content instead of noise.

We publish 2,500+ voices from 90+ countries. We also conduct education and training programs on subjects ranging from digital media and journalism to writing and critical thinking. This doesn’t come cheap. Servers, editors, trainers and web developers cost money.
Please consider supporting us on a regular basis as a recurring donor or a sustaining member.

Will you support FO’s journalism?

We rely on your support for our independence, diversity and quality.

Donation Cycle

Donation Amount

The IRS recognizes Fair Observer as a section 501(c)(3) registered public charity (EIN: 46-4070943), enabling you to claim a tax deduction.

Make Sense of the World

Unique Insights from 2,500+ Contributors in 90+ Countries

Support Fair Observer

Support Fair Observer by becoming a sustaining member

Become a Member