Some views on climate change in Bangladesh:
1. Land is disappearing everywhere, but new land is taking shape elsewhere. The problem is that the politicians here lack a long-term strategy of gaining, developing and protecting new land.
2. Nowadays most of the sediment simply disappears into the deep sea. This is practically a mortal sin in a country that should have started a program long ago to use the fertile silt, mica and clay to protect its coastline, thereby protecting future generations from drowning.
3. Despite climate change, the country could even grow. Ultimately, though, the greatest threat in Bangladesh comes not from water but from political chaos.
Some forthright views from Carvajal Monar of Royal Haskoning in an article by Gerald Traufetter.
Kids from Bhanga, Faridpur…well, actually a short ride away from Bhanga on a boat because of the floods. Some of the guardians of these kids said referring to us: “They all come and take photographs for flood projects but we don’t get anything.”
The media circus has been less than usual thanks to the fact that certain prominent individuals are restricted in their movements. Nevertheless, if you open the pages of national newspapers you will see every type of organisation represented in photographs showing their bigwigs handing over a bag of rice to some hapless bearded oldie (drafted in to round off the photo opportunity these floods provide).
There are large areas under water not far from Dhaka airport. I took these snaps this morning.
Bangladesh is more exposed than any other country to global warming. And a series of unusual events - from dying trees to freak weather - suggest its impact is already being felt. Justin Huggler reports from the Sundarbans nature reserve for The Independent (19th February 2007)
Many are feared to have died in the rains. Some reports say that over a thousand fishermen are missing. However if you were in Dhaka yesterday, you wouldn’t have noticed much hue and cry about it. It seems to me like the country has become blase about these calamities. Yesterday, Prothom Alo did not see fit to lead with this story preferring instead the Bush-Musharraf double-act. The Daily Star also gave chief prominence to another story - about the training of police or the lack of it rather….In the UK, where i live, such a disaster, if local, would fill the whole front page. There are very few pictures of what is going on - press photographers and television cameramen, I guess, prefer the safety of towns. There is almost nothing about what shelter, relief and food is being organised.
What I find strange is that there is no great sense of urgency to do anything. No ministerial appearances, no appeals, no phone-in numbers for concerned people, no major headlines in the papers, no CNN-like over the top coverage of what is going on. I remember Grameen Trust being proactive after the Tsunami crisis. I believe they even launched an sms service where you could send in some money from your phone. I guess Grameen favours big high profile projects….
However I can’t help thinking that if those missing or dead were from the metropolis - Dhaka - we would have heard a lot more and seen a lot more activity on the rescue and other fronts. There is a real and palpable difference between how rural and urban issues get noticed.
Picture: Mazeda Begum, 35, from northern Bangladesh, stands in front of her home on a raised flood-protection embankment. She sent her nineyear old daughter to the capital Dhaka to work as a servant, as the family could not afford to feed her after they lost their home and land six years ago because of river erosion.
Christian Aid have just published their climate report and it makes grim reading (these reports usually do). The world is to expect floods, pestilence, famine and war arising out of climate change. They have a case study on Bangladesh called “Bangladesh: erosion and flood.” Yes the doom merchants are banging away there also with dire predictions for the coming century. And as usual I try to ignore some of the wild conjecture though thankfully the report does make clear in several places that there are differing opinions, and that the issues are complex. A look at some of the social outcomes described in the report make believable and worrying reading: that Bangladesh is to expect migration inland in staggeringly high numbers from coastal to non-coastal issues (where land is scarce and population density high); that increasing salinization is forcing people off the land and destituting them; that flood victims get some support from government but people affected by river erosion get little or nothing even if they lose their home and land/livelihood.
Download the Report HERE (pdf file).