Climate change impacts in coastal areas: Needs youth engagement approach

13 Feb 2017, 16:02

Md. Arif Chowdhury

Tania is a fourteen-year-old girl from Monpura. At the age of two, they lost their all belongings due to blow of river erosion several times. At that time, her father went to Chittagong for managing livelihood but after few days, he disappeared. After losing all hopes and supports, her mother went to slum areas of Moghbazar in Dhaka and started working as a housekeeper. They could not survive in the harsh reality of the capital city involving scarcity of food, water, safe accommodation and so an.

They left Dhaka after two years and came back to their old place. Now they are living in Kaoartak in Monpura with extreme poverty and vulnerability. River erosions ruin their all happiness of life; even her mother never expressed affection to her.

Furthermore, Shahin is a twenty-four-year-old man from Anda Char, which is one of the most vulnerable islands. He lost his pregnant wife due to absence of a medical centre and other facilities. Due to impacts of climate change, river erosion and intensity of natural hazards are acute there. In addition, infant mortality and migration is also sharply increasing day by day. 

With the great realisation from the two real-life stories above on impacts of climate change in coastal areas of Bangladesh, the First Youth Conference on Climate Change kicked off in Barisal on Saturday (11 February) with over 600 youth participants from different areas of Barisal division. Policymakers, scientists, members of the donor community, youth and activist from all over the country also took part in the event to discuss different issues related to climate change across the coastal areas. The theme of the first youth conference, organised by UNICEF, was Youth Action Youth Mindset, Safer Environment Green Planet.

According to Dr Md Golam Rabbani from Bangladesh Centre for Advanced Studies ‘scarcity of food, drinkable water will increase in Bangladesh and risk to coastal areas will rise.’ He also added average increasing rate of sea level in the world is 3.1mm per year, but in Bangladesh, it is 6-9mm per year.

Some of the areas of the coastal regions are facing extreme problems; for example, increasing rate of salinity is significantly higher in Bhola and it will proportionally increase with the rise of sea level and temperature.

Bangladesh government formed Bangladesh Climate Change Strategy and Action Plan (2009) (BCCSAP) at policy level to implement suitable strategies against climate change. Besides the formulation and application of BCCSAP, Rabbani suggested that people from all status can work to reduce the exposure and sensitivity, and improve the adaptive capacity. Despite providing importance to reduction of greenhouse gas emissions, young generation involvement have to increase through arranging debate competition, practical learning, field visit, climate action etc.

Jebunnesa Afroz, lawmaker of Barisal-5 constituency Promised she will work more in future as like as present to engage more young people in the coastal areas to ensure rights of children and youth against climate change.

Moreover, area based necessity actions are mandatory to cope up against climate change. Young people can work to identify needs of people in coastal regions. People of Patuakhali mostly deserve arrangement of initiatives related to disaster risk reductions in different phases of disaster where Monpura needs protection from river erosion.

It is high time to implement required initiatives increasing climate resilience against climate change in coastal areas. Besides increasing the level of awareness among youth, active participation from all status has to be forwarded including advocacy and youth movement on climate justice to ensure safe and sustainable country.

* The writer is a Climate Tracker and BYMC volunteer, from Youth Conference on Climate Change, Barisal-2017.