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Volume 3 Issue 6 | June 2008



Original Forum Editorial

Month in Review: Bangladesh
Month in Review: International
Masters of Our Own Fate-- Shayan Khan
Where is the Conscience of Our Nation? --Tazreena Sajjad
The Rights of the Rohingyas-- Ziaur Rahman and Mahbubul Haque
Women Warriors--Sharmeen Murshid
Photo Feature -- Climate Refugees --Abir Abdullah
The Maobaadi Triumph-- Kanak Mani Dixit
Lessons from the Women Development Policy Debacle-- Jyoti Rahman
Going Underground-- Yasmin Chowdhury
No Room for Complacency -- Zaid Bakht and Md. Nazmul Hoque
Fear of a Muslim Planet-- Naeem Mohaiemen
Can You Tell Me How to Get to Sisimpur? -- Asrar Chowdhury


Forum Home


Photo Feature
Climate Refugees
A photo feature by Abir Abdullah/EPA

Nature has never made it easy to live in Bangladesh. Located in the low-lying Ganges Delta, formed by the confluence of the Ganges, Brahmaputra and Meghna rivers, most of the country is less than 10 metres above sea level. It is a country swamped by annual floods, with a coast battered by cyclones and tornadoes, and at times subject to drought.

Even as the rest of the world gears up to face the increasingly dire consequences of climate change, much of Bangladesh's coastal population have already become climate refugees.

Rasheda Begum, 32, in her house in Antarpara. She moved here with her family two years ago when their land on an embankment collapsed. They have been living in flood water for 10 days, and use the boat moored to the bed to get about. “I have seen flooding ten times since my childhood,” she says, “But this year it is really bad and has caused a lot of damage.” Bogra.


Left: Khan, 80, and his wife wait with their possessions under the open sky after they lost their land to river erosion. His sons and daily laborers carry a part of the roof to another location nearby. Khan has shifted his house 15 times over the years. “We saw the river take away our lands but couldn't do anything. What could we do against nature?"
Hashail, Munshigonj.
Right:A huge section of the land has cracked open and is being taken away by the Jamuna River slowly. Hundreds of houses had to be shifted due to river erosion.
Hashail, Munshigonj.



Left: Nabi, a flood victim, measures depth of water. Sariakandi Groin, Bogra.
Right: Family members carrying the roof of their house to a dryer place as flood waters entered most homes and left thousands homeless. Sariakandi, Bogra.



The body of a drowning victim is kept on a boat. Family members found his body two days after he drowned in the flood. About 10 million people have been affected and more than 1,000 died in the floods last year. Balasi, Gaibandha.

In low-lying areas, it is not unusual to be knee-deep in water during the monsoon. But floods are becoming more extreme and unpredictable. Crops have been totally destroyed, livestock lost. People have had no choice but to tear down their houses and move dozens of times to escape the rising water levels, only to return when the flood recedes to find their former land gone.

As summer temperatures climb, the weather seems to be growing more extreme and erratic. In 2004, tides in the estuaries stopped ebbing and flowing the water simply stayed at high-tide level. In 2005, the country had no winter, with serious consequences for potato farmers.

A Bangladeshi woman swims through flood waters with some of her belongings from her damaged house. Hundreds of people took shelter on the embankment after their houses were lost in severe flooding over the last weeks in the northern parts of the country. Bogra.

Anna, 26, who has already moved her house once, cooks on a banana-tree raft outside her kitchen. Sariakandi, Bogra.

The direction of the monsoon has changed it now advances west instead of north across the country. In the northwest, the monsoon failed entirely in 2006, causing severe drought, and 2007 saw a tornado occur months out of season.

There have not been sufficient studies to prove that these phenomena are a direct result of global warning, but they do give us a clear indication of what Bangladesh can expect.

In a country where many people have never driven a car, run an air-conditioner, or done much at all to increase carbon emissions, could well end up fighting climate change on the front line.


Left: Cows kept under a mosquito net in the street after the land was flooded. Chilmari, Kurigram.
Right: A piece of wooden furniture is kept on the street in a village during the shifting of a house. Hashail, Munshigonj.


A flooded house in the Sariakandi region. Bogra.

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