Child Survival in a Changing Climate

Project location: WORLDWIDE, Various Countries
Project start date: August 2010 - Project end date: August 2012
Project number: 2010-24
Beneficiary: Associazione Witness Image



Environment, Climate Change and Migration in Bangladesh

The Bengala Bay is the most affected area by climate change. The cyclones, floods and monsoons that annually hit the Bengala Bay cause the destruction of harvest and entire villages. Environmental change and extreme environmental events influence population migration. In fact, each year, several population movements from rural to urban zones cause new environmental problems, not least in the country's fast growing urban slums, improving urban environmental management is therefore clearly of critical importance.

Climate change is projected to exacerbate many of the risks people face, making environmental factors an increasingly important component of people's migration decisions over the course on the 21st century. Climate change is expected to affect the movement of people in four ways: - The intensification of natural disasters, floods, cyclones and river erosion. - Global warming, climate variability and other effects of climate change for livelihoods, public health, food security and water availability. - Rising sea levels that makes coastal areas uninhabitable. - Competition over scarce natural resource potentially leading to growing tensions and even conflicts and, in turn, displacement. Floods are a fact of life for many in Bangladesh, a quarter of the country is normally inundated each year, this cause people's displacement on a very significant scale. The decision to migrate is often guided by the aspiration to replenish asset values damaged by the flood. In addition to normal patterns of flooding within Bangladesh, sediment in rivers due to reduced sediment deposition on flood plains protected by embankments has become a problem.

It is believed that climate change could further exacerbate this issue trough changes in sedimentation and river flow, increased monsoon rainfall and retarded discharge of rivers due to sea level rise. As with floods, tropical cyclones cause widespread mass displacement of people both during and after the storm itself. The immediate effects of the storm surge and, just as importantly, the long term effects of damage to breached embankments in affected coastal areas, means that many families end up living in embankments for months and even years because their villages are repeatedly inundated with every high tide. Another important problem is the river and coastal erosion which is a continuous process in Bangladesh in which the flow of the country's main rivers plays an important role. Climate change is expected to aggravate coastal erosion primarily through rising sea-levels, but also trough changes to river flow and other hydrological dynamics.

Global warming cause sea level rise, Bangladesh will lose, in the 21st century, about 17.5 per cent of its landmass with a one meter rise in sea level. In addition to this, saline intrusion has become a major problem in the South-West of Bangladesh. Salt water penetrates far inland through the estuarine river system, severely limiting the potential for supplemental irrigation and potentially damaging crops during very high tides and reducing the availability of fresh water.

In conclusion, environmental events and gradual environment degradation play an important role in including individuals or families to move greater distances. The lack of available land, high population density and shortage of year-round work across rural Bangladesh, ally to pull factors of employment opportunities in urban areas. The overwhelming majority of those who move greater distances, individually or as a family, temporarily or permanently, move to urban areas. Whether migrants end up in large slums, their houses and workplaces, are frequently found to be unhygienic and in environmentally vulnerable locations. However many slums are in sites prone to natural disasters such as flooding and inadequate waste and sanitation services often result in pollution of the local environment through the dumping of waste and discharging of wastewater. The consequences of the resulting environmental degradation are felt by all city residents, but fall most heavily on the poor themselves.

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