Dhaka, 20 September (EFE) .- Of the hundreds of thousands of people forced to leave their homes every year by the effects of climate change in Bangladesh, fisherman Mohammad Hanif is one of them, as internally displaced people are punished by the accelerating impact. Erosion, cyclone or salinity of river water.
Haniz, 62, was just ten months old when he was forced to flee his home with his family as the Meghna River in southern Bangladesh advanced. Since then he has lost his home three times due to a series of weather disasters.
Experts link these and other factors, such as accelerated erosion or increased salinity, to global warming, which particularly affects Bangladesh, one of the most vulnerable countries on the planet to rising temperatures.
A losing battle against water
Meghna floods destroyed Hanif’s home three times, forced to live near the mouth of the South District Bhola due to his job as a fisherman, but the real disaster came with the devastating Cyclone Sidor in 2007, which killed around 3,500 people. West coast of Bangladesh.
The fisherman, along with his three brothers and eleven others, was in his boat in the Meghna estuary on hearing of Sidor’s arrival.
Hanif could have abandoned his gear and fled to a nearby island, but he and the other fishermen risked their lives to try and retrieve the nets, to no avail.
“During those years, fish became scarce. I had to pay off my debts, and a year and a half after the cyclone I had to flee my creditors to Dhaka,” he explained to EF from the capital’s Kalyanpur Shantitown.
Displaced due to climate change in Bangladesh
The slum is home to around 10,000 people, and the UN Special Rapporteur on the protection of human rights in the face of climate change, Ian Fry, will visit on Wednesday as part of his first overseas trip since his appointment.
“The people of Bangladesh are going to take a huge economic and social cost from the effects of climate change. Studies indicate that, worldwide, the costs related to damages and losses caused by the effects of climate change will increase between 290,000 million dollars (290,000 million euros) and 580,000 million dollars annually by 2030, “he advanced. Expert in a statement .
According to non-profit development agency BRAC, which runs a development program in Kalyanpur, 21% of its residents came to the capital after being displaced by weather-related natural disasters and come from the riverine districts of the southwest.
Ayesha Bibi, who works as a plastic waste collector, came to the slum with her seven younger sisters about 30 years ago when their entire village collapsed due to erosion, she told EFE.
“We will never be able to return to our village because it is no more, we don’t even know what happened to our neighbors,” he explained.
A particularly vulnerable country
According to a World Bank report published in 2018, Bangladesh is one of the most vulnerable countries to climate change and the number of people displaced by rising temperatures in the Asian country could reach 13.3 million by 2050.
According to the Geneva-based Internal Displacement Monitoring Center (IDMC), an average of 1.1 million Bangladeshis fled their homes due to natural disasters each year between 2008 and 2021, although most were able to return, in years like 2020. In particular, the number of people affected by cyclones is 4.4 million.
Accelerated erosion in river basins is one of the most important factors for this inland displacement, followed by increased salinity or sea level rise in some areas.
“Scientific studies suggest that in the future, millions of people will lose their homes and move to other places due to climate-related reasons,” Selimul Haque of the International Institute for Development and Environment told IFEC.
Khandkar Mokaddam Hossain, a professor at Dhaka University’s Institute of Disaster Management and Vulnerability Studies, said the effects of climate change are increasing extreme weather events, “causing more natural disasters.”
“Climate change is increasing the frequency and severity of natural disasters and forcing many people to flee their homes,” he explained.
Hussain pointed to recent floods in the Sylhet region, which affected 4 million people in June.
“Record rainfall levels at higher elevations in India have caused devastating floods in the Northeast this year. Now, between July and August, we are witnessing the lowest rainfall in 42 years,” he remarked.
Written by Azad Mazumder