Temperature, rainfall variations major climate concerns for Bangladesh

'6 mn people displaced due to climatic effects in Bangladesh’

15 Jan 2017, 20:54

Online Desk

Dhaka: Increased temperature and variations in rainfall are the most prevalent climate change elements that have affected the lives and livelihoods of people in Bangladesh in recent years, says a regional study.

The study launched here on Sunday reveals that the country's costal districts are very vulnerable to cyclones, storm surges, tidal floods, salinity intrusion and sea-level rise.

In the north and northeast of Bangladesh, the study showed, drought, flashfloods and riverine floods have made people's lives difficult.

The International Organization for Migration (IOM) conducted the study -- Assessing the Climate Change Environmental Degradation and Migration Nexus in South Asia -- in Bangladesh, the Maldives and Nepal.

In Bangladesh, the research was carried out in Khulna, Rajshahi, Sunamganj and Patuakhali.

Quoting Displacement Solutions (2012), the study said nearly 6 million people have already been displaced due to climatic effects in Bangladesh.

Meanwhile, rive bank erosion alone causes displacement of around 100,000 people every year in Bangladesh, said the report.  However, the total number of people who remain displaced after initial displacement due to natural disasters is unknown. 

The research was carried out in Khulna for its vulnerability to cyclone, salinity intrusion and sea level rise, Rajshahi as the area is prone to droughts an arsenic contamination, Sunamganj because of its susceptibility to flashfloods and Patuakhali for being affected by cyclone, storm surges and sea-level rise.

The study findings underscored that climate change and environmental degradation will further contribute to the movement of people living in the region.

In Patuakhali, cyclones were identified by nearly 44 percent of the participants as a primary reason for migration, along with salinity intrusion in water by nearly 18 percent and also in soil by 15 percent of respondents.

The field study revealed that respondents perceived four major natural hazards as influencing migration decisions at the household level in Khulna.

These included cyclones (more than 47 percent), salinity intrusion in soil (around 44 percent), salinity intrusion in water (43 percent) and some respondents also mentioned riverbank erosion (10 percent).

Natural hazards aggravated by climate change like floods, storm surges, droughts, cyclones a heavy precipitation has played a crucial role behind the increasing migration flows of South Asia over the past years, the IOM study showed.

Secretary-in-Charge of the Environment and Forests Ministry Istiaque Ahmad, Chief of Mission, IOM Bangladesh Sarat Dash, Programme Officer, IOM Headquarters Sieun Lee and Regional Migration, Environment and Climate Change Officer, IOM Regional Office for Asia and the Pacific, Bangkok Sabira Coelho spoke at the launching ceremony.

The field study conducted in Bangladesh, the Maldives and Nepal indicates that the countries have experienced variations in temperature and rainfall in recent decades.

Sudden and slow onset climate events often affect the lives and livelihoods of vulnerable people across the three countries.

Environmental degradation including pollution of surface water, ground water, deforestation, freshwater scarcity, declining groundwater levels and so on are also affecting the three countries.

Other natural disaster like earthquakes, landslides, tsunamis, epidemics and non-climate factors including poverty and population density may add into contributing to affect lives and livelihoods of vulnerable people and displace thousands of people every year across the three countries.

The Internal Displacement Monitoring Centre (IDMC) estimated that 7.9 million people were displaced in 2015 due to sudden onset disasters in the region, accounting for 36 percent of the estimated total global displacement.

To assess the climate change, environmental degradation and migration nexus in South Asia, the IOM commissioned the research study and produced a draft regional strategy framework and model Plans of Actions (PoAs).

The research stressed the importance of capacitating vulnerable populations, migrants, and local officials so that the communities can better adapt to harsh climate change impacts, effectively use or appropriately save the remittances they receive.

Based on the overall findings of the study a number of recommendations are made in the draft Regional Strategy Framework for Migration, Environment and Climate Change (MEECC) in South Asia to enhance collaboration to address climate change, environment degradation and migration at the regional level.

It also recommended improving awareness and understanding on the links between climate change, environmental degradation and migration at the regional level, capacity building for relevant organizations and strengthening MECC data management and research.