Climate-affected Bangladesh people pushed to acute poverty
About 600 families of Shulkia village were compelled to seek shelter in other places. Most of these families migrated to Chittagong port city
Climate change induced displaced people have been recently taking shelters on the embankment in Patenga and Halishahar of Chittagong port city, after losing their homesteads and lands due to climate extreme events like tidal surge and erosion.
Reduced to extreme poverty, nearly 50 families had taken shelter on the embankment in last six months. During a recent visit to the locality, this correspondent was told by Nahida Akhter, 30, temporally living on the embankment in Halishahar, that once she had a happy family with a house at Charbhavat in South Hatia.
She said: “We lost our home due to erosion of the Meghna two years ago and were compelled to move to Chittagong city looking for shelter.”
Nahida said as they have no relatives in the port city, she and her husband with three children took shelter on the embankment and are living there in acute poverty for last two years.
Mohammad Shahed Ali, 30, who recently migrated to Chittagong port city from Hatia Upazila in Noakhali, said the erosion of the Meghna River claimed his homestead few days ago. He said he had a house in Shulkia village of Charking union and the entire village was devoured by the Meghna erosion during this year. About 600 families of Shulkia village were compelled to seek shelter in other places. Most of these families migrated to Chittagong port city.
As Bangladesh is facing the adverse impacts of extreme climate events, including cyclone, tidal surge, erosion, flood and erratic rainfall, migration rate from rural to urban areas has been increasing day by day. Most of the people are migrating from islands and char areas to other places in the country, particularly in cities and towns.
About the recent trend of migration of displaced people, Sunil Chandra Das, who took shelter on the Patenga-Halishahar embankment nearly 30 years back after losing his house due to a tidal surge, said that when he migrated to Chittagong city from an island of the Bay of Bengal, only few families used to live on the coastal embankment. “But, now thousands of internally migrated people are living on the embankment after losing their homesteads due to natural disasters,” he said.
Locals said some 4,000 displaced people of over 1,000 families currently live on the coastal embankment of Chittagong, which creates immense economic pressure in the area. Without adequate livelihood options, most of these families live under the poverty line.
According to experts, Bangladesh is frequently visited by natural disasters such as tropical cyclones, storm surges, floods, droughts, tornadoes, and nor’westers. Of these, tropical cyclones originating in the Bay of Bengal and associated storm surges are the most disastrous.
Sea level rise, an increase in cyclone intensity, and consequent increases in storm surge heights will have disastrous effects on the deltaic country, which will force the people to migrate to urban areas in the coming days, adding to the number of people living below the poverty rate.
According to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), if the sea level will rise one meter due to global warming by 2050, the country’s one-third of land will go under the sea water.
M Jahirul Huq, Town Manager, Chittagong, of UNDP Urban Partnerships for Poverty Reduction Programme, said a significant number of people will be displaced from the coastal belt due to global warming in future and they will migrate to the urban areas. This will intensify the urban poverty in the coming days. “So, the government should take a comprehensive policy to address the issue of internally migrated people as well as urban poverty,” he said. agencies