Flood 2009: Situation assessment - Climate change worsens disaster risks for communities in southwest coastal region in Bangladesh

Originally published


Climate change-related disaster unleashed on coastal communities in southwest Bangladesh

Heavy monsoon rains, which arrived much later than normal this year, have stranded hundreds of thousands in southeast coastal region in Bangladesh and threatened livelihoods. Communities in southwest have a long history of resilience against natural calamities like tidal surges and cyclones. But increased frequency and intensity of cyclones and tidal surges put them on the frontlines of climate change. The region was wrecked by cyclone SIDR in November 2007 leaving a trail of death and devastation. In May, Cyclone Aila breached the embankments that protected the villages for decades, producing a humanitarian disaster. Three months on, hundreds of thousand of people homeless, clutching at the wreckages and collapsed homes. The people lost their crops, shrimp enclosures, cattle, income sources, assets, trees etc. Roads, embankment, bazaar, educational institutions and other structures were seriously damaged by cyclone Sidr and Aila. Before people could pull themselves off, the region face a devastating flood again.

Every day, high tide brings in fresh inundations of salt water, poisoning the land. The trees are already dying. The people will have to wait a further two months before the rains stop, the water level drops, and the government can start to repair the embankments that keep out the water.