Khulna 2009. Sufiya Khatan was 11 years old when Cyclone Aila tore apart her village. Her mother was swept to her death by winds faster than highway speed limits. However, her neighbors remained strong and saved precious family photos as their mud homes were buried in the earth.
Vaskar Mondol said that his entire Satkhira district was inundated. He is referring to the remote area where Vaskar lives. He is another victim of the nation’s increasing frequency of natural disasters.
Mondol, a 9-year-old, was forced to leave his home when Aila destroyed 90% of his neighborhood’s houses. His town was forced to rebuild their lives. Some were denied the opportunity.
Mondol said that “many old people, children, and women drowned”. In total, Aila killed 113 Bangladeshi people.
2013 saw another cyclone, and the tragedy became a regular occurrence. Over the next four year, calamity became a regular occurrence. In 2017, 2018, 2019, and 2020, the villagers’ panic turned into prolonged, passive anguish. Khatan, now in his 20s, and Mondol, now in their 20s, witnessed the devastation of their community as Cyclone Yaas struck.
Although these hurricane-like storms don’t seem new, the climate crisis has increased their severity and frequency according to Saleemul Huq who is director of Bangladesh’s International Centre for Climate Change and Development.
It’s not only cyclones that cause havoc in South Asia.
“Every year, [during]Huq stated that floods are common during the monsoon season. “Normal floods can be fine, but every 20 year we get a huge flood — and now, we’ve had five in the last 20 years.”
Bangladesh, home to a population in excess of 1.3 million, has been described as “Bangladesh”. over 166 million, has been the global face for the nations for a long time most threatened by global warming. Sometimes called “ground zero” for climate changeThe land, especially its shore, is at risk due to its location between two major rivers, the Brahmaputra or Ganges. Drought is also a problem in many regions.
Huq said that climate change does not require an IPCC report. He was referring to the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. “We can see it happening by looking out the window or walking down the street in heavy rain, in knee-deep, waist-deep water.
Bangladesh’s status is a developing nation, which means that it does not have sufficient financial resources for either protective or reparative measures. Because of their lower costs, many houses in remote areas have mud or clay foundations. This makes them more susceptible to water damage and seawater salt retention.
Huq stated that “it’s a combination geography, population, and poverty.” About one-fifth of the population lives below the poverty line.
River embankments are meant to protect residents from such dangers, but they are often destroyed by these twice-yearly natural disasters. They are often destroyed completely.
Mondol stated that the water from the river enters our crops fields and destroys them, which I believe is a major reason for the current food crisis. Last year, the United Nations World Food Programme announced that 25% of Bangladesh’s population is food insecure and 32% of Bangladeshi children under the age of five suffer from stunting, a result of chronic malnutrition.
Cyclone Amphan devastated trees and buildings in the college students’ hometown in 2020, leaving them “absolutely homeless.”
Richer countries like the United States have tried to step up to help.
A hopeful promise, broken
During the 2009 climate conference at Copenhagen, wealthy nations agreed that they would give poorer countries a total amount of $100 billion by 2020to ensure safety for citizens. They also promised $100 million for each year thereafter.
Instead of fulfilling their promises, these countries have been arguing over fiscal allocations or simply who owes what. Meanwhile, countries such as Bangladesh that are poorer than others are left to their own devices.
Huq stated, “It’s already to late.” “2020 has passed, and they only delivered $79 Billion. … It would be $100 billion more in 2021, but they are talking about the $100 billion like it’s a $100 billion one-time deal.
Even that $79 billionHuq said that Huq is pleading for years. This July, UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said that “to rebuild trust, developed countries must clarify now how they will effectively deliver $100 billion in climate finance annually to the developing world, as was promised over a decade ago.”
Huq says that although $100 billion may seem like a lot, developing countries require much more if it is to be successful in combating climate change. He states that the “needs are in the trillions.”
To make matters worse, wealthy countries are among the highest contributors to global carbon emissions. A recent report calculates the US’ carbon emissions outputAt 5 billion tons, 2021, it will be the second highest world weight. Germany is No. The United Kingdom ranks at 15. The list doesn’t include Bangladesh, but the top 20 is made up of citizens from developing nations like Mondol, Khatan and Khatan.
September President Joe Biden pledged to double the amountThe US will contribute to the $100 billion pool. Huq claims that Bangladesh has not relied on international aid for the past 10 years, despite the effort.
“We created a climate trust fund. Each year, the finance minister has put $100 million of his own money. The climate budget was created in the last three year.”
Picking up the pieces
There is a silver lining. Bangladesh is now recognized as a global leader in adapting and managing the effects of climate change.
Huq said that they have made significant progress in identifying and declaring vulnerability rather than merely doing nothing.
Huq has attended numerous international climate summits, including this year’s COP26 in Glasgow, Scotland. During 2015’s Paris Accord meeting, held at Le Bourget Airport, he made a shocking observation.
“People were witnessing a huge conference with flags from 200 countries flying. Parisians who [were]Huq stated that while everyone passing by knew there was something important going on, most people didn’t know what it was.”
On the inside, were private crews of Bangladeshi nationals who had paid for their trip to Paris. As the summit was being held, global government representatives met to discuss the state and future of the climate crisis. Most people in Bangladesh were aware of what was happening and eagerly followed the summit.
Since the Paris conference, Bangladeshi citizens have been paying close attention to climate fluctuations. This highlights their outstanding role in managing the negative effects of global warming. Khatan, for example, decided to pursue a master’s program in disaster management. She also volunteers at an organization that addresses the impacts of climate change. Mondol also does.
Even though the United States is leading the way in climate adaptation, it’s not without its challenges. Khatan emphasizes the fact that there is no easy way to recover from the effects of evacuation. “The government and sometimes non-government NGOs help,” Khatan said. [evacuees]She said that most people don’t have the resources to help them recover from such a situation. “They either flee the area or migrate to the city to find shelter.”
These shelters can be found in slums.
Huq believes that evacuation in general is a success for Bangladesh. He stated that 3 million people can be evacuated so they can move on. “We still have significant damage, but there are no deaths.”
Many of the thousands of people who fled the area after Cyclone Amphan were unable to return home as their homes had been destroyed by the floodwaters. They now live in the slums at Khulna and Dhaka.
Huq said, “But they didn’t perish.”
Climate change will not wait for political agreement
Huq says that there is much to be done to address the forces of climate change. Much has been done already in Bangladesh and other developing countries. However, global unity is needed. Huq insists that this crisis is not a political problem but a human one.
Huq stated that he believes the paradigm shift is happening now that everyone is vulnerable. “Being rich doesn’t make you immune. The poor may not be rich, but they are very knowledgeable about how to deal with adversity.
Residents created a system that encourages dependability to help them survive the devastating effects of climate change on Bangladesh’s economically struggling villages.
Satellite images, warning system that sends out notifications about impending Cyclones, and other infrastructure have helped prevent loss of life during a hurricane or extreme flooding. But, Huq says, it’s also people knowing what to do, and helping each other.
Khatan’s community members have developed a unique ability to respond to cyclone signals. It is heartwarming to see the willingness to respond and the support given by young people to older adults who are feeling helpless. Khatan said, “Youth are the best in the present situation.”
“Every schoolkid knows exactly what to do. Huq stated that they have regular rehearsals. Children have responsibilities to save everyone in every household, especially those with widows and disabled people.
Khatan says that most people don’t want to leave their neighborhood, their homes.
Huq stated that grandparents and parents don’t like to evacuate. “They’ll say they’ve seen this before. We won’t go. We’re going home. They make them go.”
Everyone can evacuate with the help of their peers, who have gained their trust. Friends, volunteers, and schoolchildren all save lives.
Bangladesh’s story of resilience turning into determination shows how camaraderie is possible to counteract the devastating effects of climate change. If we look at the resilience of Bangladesh, we can see why the promise to pay $100 billion per annum should not be seen as a luxury, but as a necessity.
“Nobody gets left behind.”