Climate change in Bangladesh is a pressing issue. According to National Geographic, Bangladesh is one of two nations most vulnerable to the impacts of climate change.
Bangladesh lies at the bottom of the Ganges, the Brahmaputra and the Meghna (GBM) river system. Bangladesh is watered by a total of 57 trans-boundary rivers flowing to it: 54 from neighbouring India and three from Myanmar. The country, which has no control of water flows and volume, drains to the Bay of Bengal. Coupled with the high level of widespread poverty and increasing population density, limited adaptive capacity, and poorly funded, ineffective local governance have made the region one of the most adversely affected on the planet. There are an estimated one thousand people in each square kilometre, with the national population increasing by two million people each year. Almost half the population is in poverty (defined as purchasing power parity of US$1.25 per person a day). The population lacks the resources to respond to natural disasters as the government cannot help them.:7
In the 2017 edition of Germanwatch's Climate Risk Index, Bangladesh was judged to be the sixth hardest hit by climate calamities of 180 nations during the period 1996–2015.:6
It is projected that, by 2020, from 500 to 750 million people will be affected by water stress caused by climate change around the world.Low-lying coastal regions, such as Bangladesh, are vulnerable to sea level rise and the increased occurrence of intense, extreme weather conditions such as the cyclones of 2007–2009, as well as the melting of polar ice. In most countries like Bangladesh, yields from rain-fed agriculture could be reduced to 50 percent by 2020. For a country with increasing population and hunger, this will have an adverse effect on food security. Although effects of climate change are highly variable, by 2030, South Asia could lose 10 percent of rice and maize yields, while neighboring states like Pakistan could experience a 50 percent reduction in crop yield.
As a result of all this, Bangladesh would need to prepare for long-term adaptation, which could be as drastic as changing sowing dates due to seasonal variations, introducing different varieties and species, to practicing novel water supply and irrigation systems.:230
Further information: Food security
With a larger population facing losses in arable lands, climate change poses an acute risk to the already malnourished population of Bangladesh. Although the country has managed to increase its production of rice since the nation's birth — from 10 metric tons (MT) to over 30 MT — around 30 percent of the population is still malnourished. Now more than five million hectares of land are irrigated, almost fourfold that in 1990. Even though modern rice varieties have been introduced in three-fourths of the total rice irrigation area, the sudden shift in population increase is putting strains on the production. Climate change threatens the agricultural economy, which, although it counts for just 20 percent of GDP, contributes to over half the labor force. In 2007, after a series of floods and Cyclone Sidr, food security was severely threatened. Given the country's infrastructure and disaster response mechanisms, crop yields worsened. The loss of rice production was estimated at around two million metric tons (MT), which could potentially feed 10 million people. This was the single most important catalyst of the 2008 price increases, which led to around 15 million people going without much food. This was further worsened by cyclone Allia.
National and international policies
Given the frequent climate change-based catastrophes, Bangladesh needs to enhance food security by drafting and implementing new policies such as the 2006 National Sausage Policy. The Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) supported this policy through the "National Food Policy Capacity Strengthening Program" (NFPCSP). There is also an initiative for the start of a "Food Security Country Investment Plan" enabling the country to secure around US$52 million under the "Global Agriculture and Food Security Program" (GAFSP), making it Asia's first recipient. More work and better implementation from the government is necessary for activities to reach fruitful outcomes. Already, 11 ministries and governmental agencies are involved in this integrated endeavour. In the aftermath of the "East Pakistan Coastal Embankment plan" (CEP) in the mid-20th century, Bangladesh has recently started work on the "Master Plan for the South". The southern coastal area is vulnerable to the ill-effects of global climate. Crops, livestock, and fisheries of the southern delta are threatened. There are plans for a US$3 billion multi-purpose bridge named "Padma" to transform the agricultural sector in the region. The government estimates a GDP increase of around two percent as a result of the project.
In an effort to achieve middle income country status by 2021, the government is focusing on increasing agriculture production, productivity, water management techniques, surface water infrastructure, irrigation, fisheries, and promoting poultry and dairy development. Biofuels fit into this scenario by providing energy for agriculture. In 2006, the Ministry of Agriculture provided a 30 percent subsidy to diesel to power irrigation for farming, further proposing a 7,750 million BDT disbursement to help almost a million farmers with fuel.:354
Bangladesh loses land to rising sea levels, but gains land from sediment deposits. The effects of sea level rise and land accretion in Bangladesh are highly regional and variegated. Natural land accretion, paired with targeted policies to secure such land for farming use has the potential to partially mitigate the effects of land lost.
As a Least developed country (LDC), Bangladesh is exempt from any responsibility to reduce GHG emissions, which are the primary cause of global warming. But lately this has been the rallying factor for policy makers to give off higher amounts of emissions in nearly all sectors with disregard for the environment. Large developed industrial nations are emitting increasing quantities of greenhouse gases (GHG). The country cannot go far in their struggle with reducing emissions and fighting global warming with the considerable scantily supported funding and help it receives from the international community. There exist plans such as the "National Action Plan on Adaptation" (NAPA) of 2005, and the "Bangladesh Climate Change Strategy and Action Plan" (BCCSAP) of 2009.
BCCSAP states that an integrated approach is necessary and the only way to gain sustainability is where economic and social development is pursued to the exclusion of disaster management, as one major calamity will destroy any socio-economic gains. Around 40–45 percent of GHG emissions are required to be reduced by 2020 and 90–95 percent by 2050. This is using the 1990 GHG concentration levels as a benchmark. With higher population and rapid industrialization, Bangladesh should be on its way to developing a low-carbon path given it initially receives significant financial and technical support from the international community and national goals of economic growth and social development is not hampered. But a more holistic short-term plan is also necessary. Bangladesh has established the Bangladesh Climate Change Trust Fund (BCCTF) and the Bangladesh Climate Change Resilience Fund (BCCRF) allocating US$200 million and cumulating around further US$114 million respectively. Although 3000 cyclone shelters were constructed with over 40,000 trained volunteers and 10,000 km of embankments erected, Bangladesh should not only place emphasis on capacity building and disaster management but also institutional and infrastructure strengthening, development of research and low carbon technologies in order to create an inclusive and truly comprehensive mitigation scheme. Even though it is agreed that the willingness and cooperation of the current UNFCCC parties (194 member states as of 2011) is necessary to help the nation, funds like the Special Climate and LDC, Adaptation Fund should be easily made available.:133
Foreign aid and funding
Various countries have pledged to provide funding for adaptation and mitigation in developing nations, such as Bangladesh. The accord committed up to US$30 billion of immediate short term funding over the 2010-2012 period from developed to developing countries to support their action in climate change mitigation. This funding is available for developing nations to build their capacity to reduce emissions and responds to impacts of climate change. Furthermore, this funding will be balanced between mitigation and infrastructure adaptation in various sectors including forestry, science, technology and capacity building. Moreover, the Copenhagen Accord (COP 15) also pledges US$100 million of public and private finance by 2020, mostly to developing nations.
Another misconception is that this accord will divert funding from poverty reduction. The private sector alone contributes more than 85 percent of current investments for a low carbon economy. In order to maximize any future contributions from this sector, the public sector needs to overcome the political and bureaucratic barriers the private sector has to face towards a low carbon future.:72
- ^Braun, David Maxwell (2010-10-20). "Bangladesh, India Most Threatened by Climate Change, Risk Study Finds". National Geographic. Retrieved 14 July 2017.
- ^ abcdeSunny, Sanwar (2011). Green Buildings, Clean Transport and the Low Carbon Economy. Lambert Academic Publishing GmbH KG. ISBN 3846593338. Retrieved 14 July 2017.
- ^Kreft, Sönke; David Eckstein, David; Melchior, Inga (November 2016). Global Climate Risk Index 2017(PDF). Bonn: Germanwatch e.V. ISBN 978-3-943704-49-5. Retrieved 10 July 2017.
- ^Brammer, Hugh (2014). "Bangladesh's dynamic coastal regions and sea-level rise". Climate Risk Management. 1: 51–62. doi:10.1016/j.crm.2013.10.001. Retrieved 14 July 2017.
Bangladesh is one of the largest deltas in the world which is highly vulnerable to Natural Disasters because of its Geographical location, Flat and low-lying landscape, Population density, Poverty, Illiteracy, Lack of Institutional setup etc. In other words, the Physical, Social as well as Economic conditions of Bangladesh are very typical to any of the most vulnerable countries to Natural Disasters in the world. The total land area is 147,570 sq. km. consists mostly of Floodplains (almost 80%) leaving major part of the country (with the exception of the north-western highlands) prone to flooding during the rainy season. Moreover, the adverse affects of Climate Change – especially High Temperature, Sea-level Rise, Cyclones and Storm Surges, Salinity Intrusion, Heavy Monsoon Downpours etc. has aggravated the overall Economic Development scenario of the country to a great extent.
Bangladesh has got a population of around 150 million (2011) with a life expectancy at birth of around 63 years, and an adult literacy rate of 47.5%. The recent Human Development Report ranks Bangladesh number 140 of 177 nations. Bangladesh has an average annual population growth rate of around 2% (4.6% in urban areas), almost 75% of the population lives in rural areas and a population density of 954.4 (people per sq. km.). Bangladesh is predominantly Agricultural with two thirds of the population engaged in farming or Agro-based industrial activity mainly. The climate of Bangladesh can be characterized by High temperatures, Heavy rainfall, High humidity, and fairly marked three seasonal variations like Hot Summer, Shrinking Winter and Medium to Heavy Rains during the Rainy season.
Bangladesh experiences different types of Natural Disasters almost every year because of the Global Warming as well as Climate Change impacts, these are:
Floods / Flash Floods (Almost 80% of the total area of the country is prone to flooding).
Cyclones and Storm Surges (South and South-eastern Parts of the country were hit by Tropical Cyclones during the last few years).
Salinity Intrusion (Almost the whole Coastal Belt along the Bay of Bengal is experiencing Salinity problem).
Extreme Temperature and Drought (North and North-western regions of the country are suffering because of the Extreme Temperature problem).
Agriculture and Fisheries:
As already mentioned earlier, the economy of Bangladesh is based on Agriculture mainly, with two thirds of the population engaged (directly or indirectly) on Agricultural activities; although the country is trying move towards industrialization slowly during the last one and a half decade almost. So, the overall impact of Climate Change on Agricultural production in Bangladesh would be wide spread and devastating for the country’s economy. Beside this, other impacts of Climate Change such as - Extreme Temperature, Drought, and Salinity Intrusion etc. are also responsible for the declining crop yields in Bangladesh. Temperature and Rainfall changes have already affected crop production in many parts of the country and the area of arable land has decreased to a great extent. The Salinity intrusion in the coastal area is creating a serious implications for the coastal land that were traditionally used for rice production.
The fisheries sector has also experienced an adverse affect because of the impacts of Climate Change. The fisheries sector contributes about 3.5% of the GDP in Bangladesh and people depend on fish products in order to meet up majority of their daily protein requirements. There are around 260 species of fish in the country and almost all the varieties are sensitive to specific salt and freshwater conditions.
Water Resources and Hydrology:
In a high density country like Bangladesh, the effects of Climate Change on the Surface and Ground water resources will be very severe and alarming. Changes to water resources and hydrology will have a significant impact on the country’s economy, where people mostly depend on the Surface water for Irrigation, Fishery, Industrial production, Navigation and similar other activities.
Almost one forth of the total population of the country live in the coastal areas of Bangladesh, where majority of the population are some how affected (directly or indirectly) by Coastal Floods / Tidal Surges, River-bank Erosion, Salinity, Tropical Cyclones etc. With the rise of Sea-level up to one meter only, Bangladesh could lose up to 15% of its land area under the Sea water and around 30 million people living in the coastal areas of Bangladesh could become Refugees because of Climate Change impacts. Agriculture, Industry, Infrastructure (School, Hospitals, Roads, Bridges and Culverts etc.), Livelihoods, Marine Resources, Forestry, Biodiversity, Human Health and other Utility services will suffer severely because of the same. Salinity Intrusion from the Bay of Bengal already penetrates 100 kilometers inside the country during the dry season and the Climate Change in its gradual process is likely to deteriorate the existing scenario to a great extent. Since most of the country is less than 10 meters above Sea level and almost 10% of the population of the country is living below 1 meter elevation - the whole coastal area is Highly Vulnerable to High Tides and Storm Surges. Moreover, the Bay of Bengal is located at the tip of the north Indian Ocean, where severe Cyclonic storms as well as long Tidal waves are frequently generated and hit the coast line with severe impacts because of the Shallow as well as Conical shape of the Bay near Bangladesh.
Forestry / Biodiversity:
Bangladesh has got a wide diversity of Ecosystems including Mangrove forests at the extreme south of the country. The “Sundarbans” a World Heritage, is the largest Mangrove Forest in the world, comprising 577,00 ha of land area along the Bay of Bengal. A total of 425 species have been identified there, the most significant is the famous Royal Bengal Tiger. Therefore, Climate Change impacts will have negative effects on the Ecosystem of the Forest recourses in Bangladesh while the Sundarbans is likely to suffer the most.
Cities and Towns situated along the Coastal belt in Bangladesh are at the Front line of Climate Change related Disaster impacts and could experience a severe damage directly because of the Sea level Rise and Storm Surges at any time. Direct impacts may occur through the increased Floods, Drainage congestion and Water logging as well as Infrastructure Damage during extreme events. The important Urban sectors that suffered severely by the previous floods in Bangladesh include Urban Infrastructure, Industry, Trade, Commerce and Utility services etc. As consequence, it hampered usual productivity during and after major floods and hence increased the vulnerability of the urban poor by many folds. It should be mentioned here that, around 40 per cent of the urban population in Bangladesh lives in the Slum and Squatter settlements of the major cities which are highly prone to Disaster risk during Flooding further.
The Urban poor are therefore directly at the risk of Natural Disasters being enhanced by the impacts of Climate Change - especially in the absence / shortage of the necessary Infrastructure as well as Employment opportunity for them in the major cities of the country. In Bangladesh, Women are especially Vulnerable because of the Gender inequalities in the Socio- economic and Political institutions. During the 1991Cyclone and Storm surge in Bangladesh, the death rate in case of women was almost five times higher than the men. Because men were able to communicate with each other in the public spaces, but the information did not reach most of the women timely.
Dear Global Citizens... and Friends of the Global Village...!
The Glaciers are Melting, Sea-level is Rising since the World is getting Warmer - our Coast line, Green Villages, Paddy fields, Schools, Hospitals, Markets are sinking... Please, come forward and let’s fight our Common Problems together...!
People are losing their Homesteads, Agriculture fields, Sweet water Ponds, Fishery, Poultry, Livestock and every thing... Becoming Homeless - taking shelter in the roadside Unhygienic Squatters and Slums. Once upon a time – they had Sweet Families along with all the members - Mom-Dad, Brothers-Sisters, Husband-Wife, Sons and Daughters...! They were surrounded by Greeneries, Water bodies, Vegetable gardens and Fruit trees - Cows, Goats, Hens and Ducks were common in every family... now, all are sweet memories...! Small Boats used to play in the Canals and Rivers - were the main mode of Transportation That Village was like a piece of Heaven... they lived for generations...!
Dear Friends, let’s Protect our Lovely Planet as the Safe Home for our future Generation...
Please... Let’s not think, Climate Change as an Individual Problem of any country or nation – Let’s think, it’s our Common Issue, we’ve to face efficiently as “Citizens of the Global Village” from now on...!
With Best Regards –
A.K.M. Rezaul Karim.