Thursday, October 15, 2015

Global Warming Effect on Land & Infrastructure in Bangladesh


The world’s climate has always been changing between hotter and cooler periods due to various factors. Some developing countries are under go to sea level rise due to their low lying nature and limited financial resources to tackle this change. Among the most vulnerable countries with large populations in deltaic coastal regions such as Bangladesh, Vietnam, China and Egypt. Technologies do have the potential to help us adapt to changes in climate. The present paper analyzes the sea level rise impacts on land, water salinity, agriculture, humanity and possible policy interventions in coastal areas of Bangladesh. Future generations will have no place to live on this planet Earth.  We should ensure that the coming generations will be able to enjoy the beauty of the country like people have enjoyed previously and be able to have enough space and food to live.


Geographically, Bangladesh is located in the tropical region. Natural disaster is a common phenomenon and till today Bangladesh is facing several disasters, and Global Warming Effect is the main reason behind it (Daily Star, 2011). Bangladesh lies on a deltaic plain with five major river systems: the Jamuna- Bralmaputra, the Padma-Ganges, the Surma-Meghna, the Padma-Meghna, and the Karnaphuli. Although altitudes up to 105 m above sea level occur in the northern part of the plain, most elevations are less than 10 m above sea level; elevations decrease in the coastal south, where the terrain is generally at sea level. These geographical features make Bangladesh vulnerable to natural disasters, such as floods and cyclones, and the high levels of poverty increase the magnificence of the challenges that the country is likely to face from climate change (ICDDR B, 2011). Bangladesh ranked fifth most vulnerable country to global warming effect and hunger in an Action Aid research report. In the World Risk Index 2011, jointly conducted by United Nations University (UNU), Germany and the Institute of Environment and Human Security said that Bangladesh ranked sixth among countries that are most vulnerable to natural disasters, while second among the Asian countries ( Daily Star, 2011). Different processes of land degradation also embarrass the available statistics on soil or land degradation. Farmers mostly cultivate low giving, traditional rice varieties during monsoon. Higher population density increases vulnerability to global warming effect because more people are exposed to risk and opportunities for migration within a country are limited.

Land Degradation

Land degradation involves two interlocking, complex systems: (1) the natural ecosystem and (2) the human social system. Interactions between the two systems determine the success or failure of resource management programs. Causes of land degradation are not only biophysical, but also socioeconomic and political. High population density is not necessarily related to land degradation. However, they need to be healthy, physically, politically and economically motivated to care for the land, as livelihood agriculture, poverty and illiteracy are important causes of land and environmental degradation.
Land Effect BD

Land surface is an important part of the climate system. The communication between land surface and the atmosphere involves multiple processes and feedbacks, all of which may change together. It is generally highlighted that the changes of vegetation type can modify the characteristics of the regional atmospheric circulation and the particular large-scale outside moisture going. Adjustments inside surface area vitality costs resulting from ground surface area modify may have any deep effect around the World's weather.

The land degradation issue for world food security and the quality of the environment assumes a major significance when one considers that only about 11 per cent of the global land surface can be considered as prime land, and this must feed the 6.3 billion people today and the 8.2 billion expected by the year 2020. Hence land degradation will remain high on the international agenda in the 21st century. According to UNCCD, over 250 million people are directly affected by land degradation. In addition, one billion people in over 100 countries are at risk. Sustainable land management practices are needed to avoid land degradation.

Rice is by far the most important crop in Bangladesh. Together with the possible reduction in the area in which Aman rice grows (as a result of greater spread of flood waters, and longer duration of flooding) and a reduction in the area in which Boro rice grows (which will be limited due to constraints in irrigation), the total area suitable for rice production may stabilize in the future or possibly decrease has shown due to the sea level rise along the southwestern region of Bangladesh where areas suitable for Aman rice harvesting would decrease significantly. 

It is reported that, Aus production would suffer by 27 per cent while wheat production would decline by 61 per cent under a moderate climate change situation. Under a severe climate change situation which is attached with 60 per cent moisture force, yield of Boro might reduce by 55 to 62 per cent.

The generally high temperatures and low precipitation in the drylands lead to poor organic matter production and rapid oxidation. Low organic matter leads to poor quantity and low quantity stability leading to a high potential for wind and water erosion. For example, wind and water erosion is main parts of Africa.

Riverbank Erosion 

Most of the rivers of Bangladesh flow through unconsolidated sediments of the Ganges-Brahmaputra, Meghna floodplain and delta. The riverbanks are proving to erosion by river current and wave action. River erosion includes channel shifting, the creation of new channels during floods, bank slumping due to undercutting, and local scour from turbulence caused by obstruction. The Shitalakha, the Brahmaputra, the Meghna, the Teesta, and the Surma-Kushiyara rivers flow within well defined zigzag belts on extensive floodplains where erosion is heavy. Sudden changes are common during floods that cause rapid bank erosion.  In lower deltaic areas, river bank erosion is caused by tidal currents and storm surges from the sea.  There are 13% areas are salinity at Bagerhat, Khulna & Sathkhira, the southwestern coastal districts of Bangladesh at present which will increase 16% in 2050 and 18% in 2100.
Riverbank Break

The Bangladesh Water Development Board (BWDB) estimated that about 1,200 kilometers of riverbank has been actively eroded and more than 500 kilometers has been facing high problems related to erosion. Satellite-image studies of the Ganges-Brahmaputra Middle-Meghna rivers show that an area of 106,300 hectares has been lost due to erosion between 1982 and 1992, while the accretion amounted to only 19,300 hectares. The net erosion rate was therefore estimated at 8,700 hectares per year. Erosion of border riverbanks is serious because it can cause loss of land to neighboring countries.

Infrastructure Degradation

Floods, especially the high intensity floods, often devastate physical infrastructure such as road networks, educational centers, market places, administrative buildings etc. Even flood protecting embankments are threatened to be breached during high intensity floods. The high intensity cyclone of 1991 caused large-scale destruction to coastal embankments along the Patenga area in Chittagong, destroyed runways of Chittagong airport, ceased port activities by sinking a number of ships in the Patenga channel and also in offshore anchorage. Deluge of 1998 rendered most parts of Dhaka inaccessible by motorized vehicles, while the flood waters of 1988 broken the runways of Dhaka International Airport and disconnected it for about 11 days from the rest of the world. The telecommunication network was torn off during the cyclone of 1991 and the entire coastal belt was disconnected for weeks. Damage to national highways due to flood alone is estimated at 1011 and 3,315 kilometers by the year 2030 and 2050, respectively. The corresponding damage to embankments is estimated at 4,271 and 13,996 kilometers by the year 2030 and 2050, respectively. The combine damage figures for health centers and hospitals due to floods, cyclones, sea-level rise and salinity intrusion is estimated at 1,682 and 5,212, respectively, for the above two time horizons.
School damage by flood

Under the prevailing socioeconomic circumstances, it is easily understandable that the poor do not have good quality houses. Moreover, natural disasters often take huge toll on poorly built houses and sanitation infrastructure. Human settlements are, therefore, highly vulnerable to global warming effect induced floods and cyclonic storm surges. In Bangladesh every year, rivers affects the large agriculture fields and homesteads that makes the peoples homeless. Those who have no way to live in the locality migrate to urban areas and live in the slum in unhygienic conditions.    


It has been said that no single organisation or country can solve the problem of climate change.  But we can make a difference by making a start and showing what is possible.  A multi-dimensional approach is needed for the formulation of policies and implementation of programs related to climate change. A comprehensive approach is also needed for implementation of policy measures in respect of global warming issues in Bangladesh. So while some of the issues may seem remote and organisations like the Church of Bangladesh unable to engage directly; for example in cutting US emissions, nobody is helpless there is always something to be done and examples to be set.  Furthermore continued research is necessary to determine more accurately future and present effects of climate change on Bangladesh.


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