Riverbank erosion thus has negative impact on human life. Conversely, human activities also have impact on riverbank erosion. The poverty of the Malawians has created pressure on catchment areas or rivers. People cultivate on riverbanks because of its fertile land. No fertilisers are needed. River banks provide better yields than upland farms that are depleted of nutrients. Because of these benefits, there is over-cultivation, poor management of cultivated fields, and indiscriminate cutting down of trees (Kaunda and Chapotoka, 2003). All this leads to riverbank erosion along with river sedimentation, water pollution and fish habitat alteration. Therefore, the management of natural resources including riverine resources in poverty-stricken communities is of very complex nature.
The literature survey in this review article opens up two important aspects of the above topic that can be pursued in future research. Firstly, more scientific studies on the impact of human intervention are needed. Also, at the same time, it is needed to analyse to what extent human intervention may be tolerable without disturbing the natural dynamic equilibrium of rivers, because rivers always play a vital role in the social and economic welfare of countries. Moreover, there is increasing pressure on rivers to accrue more benefits to the society. Such studies will help in developing river training work, depending on the reach where there is human intervention.
The second research question is how to maintain riparian buffers, especially in countries that are suffering from over-population and poverty, since bank erosion is a natural phenomenon even if there was no human intervention. Human vulnerability is of greatest extend, where settlements are dangerously close to eroding banks. Therefore, mapping of the spatial distribution of vulnerability of the people residing along the river bank is very much required to understand the severity of the problem (Kienberger et al., 2009). This research topic demands for an interdisciplinary approach: measurement of human vulnerability and spatial mapping. Such studies are lacking in literature on river bank erosion.