This is one of the most ambitious projects the BBC World Service has undertaken. All this month the BBC World Service is travelling along the rivers of Bangladesh as part of a major project to track and debate climate change. Journalist Ben Sutherland is among those on board the vessel, the MV Aboshor. Over the course of the month, staff from 17 different World Service language services will visit the MV Aboshar, and each Friday and Saturday a total of 48 people will cram onto the small boat. I was one lucky one out of the group, thanks to Meer Anis for squeeze me in the gang.
The launch began with a press conference on board the boat, decked out most smartly in proud BBC World Service blue; there is even a BBC flag on the radio mast. From the top deck I watched the local Bangladeshi journalists arrive, escorted across in a powerboat, cameras already on the go.
Also munching away were the armed guards who will protect the MV Aboshar along the journey. The risk of attack from pirates is slight, but it is real. Around four o’clock, we re-boarded the MV Aboshar and it lurched slowly away and into the middle of the river. It has all the latest technology, allowing BBC online, radio and TV journalists to file live from the vessel.
An hour or so later, we were treated to a glorious sight as the sun set over the brick kilns and derelict hulks of old ships that line this part of the Padma river, an eventual tributary of the mighty Ganges.
The boat will now head towards Chandpur, a famous trading place now seriously threatened by erosion of the river bank – and which is increasingly seeing flooding sweep into the riverside villages.
That was a remarkable River Cruise to remember….