Khulna 2009: Sufiya Khatan, 11, watched as Cyclone Aila tore through her village off the coast of Bangladesh. Her mother was swept to the ground by winds that were faster than the speed limit on highways. While her neighbors lost precious family photos, their mud homes fell into the earth, her neighbor held onto them.
Vaskar Mondol said that his entire Satkhira district was inundated. He is referring to the remote area where Vaskar lives. He is yet another victim to the nation’s increasing number of natural disasters.
Mondol, a 9-year-old, was forced to leave his home when Aila destroyed 90% of his neighborhood’s houses. Residents of his town were forced into a new life. Some were denied the opportunity.
Mondol stated that many elderly, 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 decades, calamity became an annually occurring event. 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.
These hurricane-like storms are not new, but the climate crisis has increased their severity and frequency, according to Saleemul Huq (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 said that floods occur during the monsoon period. “Normal floods work well, but every 20-years we have a big flood — and we’ve had five of these in the past 20 years.”
Bangladesh, with a population of approximately 1.2 million people, is the largest country in Asia. 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 changeDue to its location between two main rivers, Ganges and the Brahmaputra, the land, especially its shoreline, is in danger. 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 simply look out the window, or walk down the street when it rains heavily, in waist-deep or knee-deep water, and know it’s happening.”
Bangladesh’s status is a developing nation, which means it doesn’t have enough resources to provide financial support for either reparative or protective measures. Because of the lower cost of clay or mud foundations, houses in remote areas are more vulnerable to water damage, and salt retention, to the point that they become uninhabitable.
Huq said, “It’s an amalgamation of geography and population and poverty.” About one-fifth of the population lives below the poverty line.
River embankments were built to protect residents against such harm but are now being eroded by these twice-yearly catastrophes. They often disappear completely.
Mondol said that water from the river can enter and destroy our crop fields, which he believes is a major cause for the 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, which struck the college student’s hometown in 2020, left the area “absolutely destitute.”
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 keep citizens safe. 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, poorer nations like Bangladesh are left to manage their own affairs.
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 claims that pleading has been a long-standing tradition. 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 to combat climate change. He says, “The needs are in trillions.”
Even worse, wealthy countries are among the highest contributors to global carbon emissions. A recent report calculates the US’ carbon emissions outputTo be the second highest in the world at approximately 5 billion tonnes in 2021. Germany is No. The United Kingdom ranks at 15. Although Bangladesh is not even in the top 20, it is the citizens of developing countries like Mondol or Khatan who are most affected by the climate crisis.
September President Joe Biden pledged to double the amountThe US will contribute to the $100 billion pool. Huq said that Bangladesh has not depended on international funding for the past ten years due to the effort involved.
“We created a climate trust fund. Each year, the finance ministry has put $100 million of its 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 worldwide as a leader in adapting climate change’s effects, including severe flooding and forest destruction.
Huq stated, “We have made significant progress in assessing and declaring vulnerability to do something about it.”
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 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 instance, was motivated to get a master’s in disaster management. She volunteers at an organization that deals with the effects of climate change. Mondol also does.
Climate adaptation isn’t easy, even for the nation that is leading the charge. Khatan stresses that it is not always easy to recover from the effects of evacuation. “The government, sometimes non-government organizations, help [evacuees]”It is possible to recover from this situation but most people don’t get these facilities,” she stated. “They either flee the area or migrate to the city to find shelter.”
These shelters are found in urban slums.
Huq claims that Bangladesh’s success in evacuations is a general one. He said, “We can evacuate three million people so that they will move out the way.” “We still have significant damage, but there are no deaths.”
Most of the thousands of people evacuated from the area by Cyclone Amphan couldn’t return home after their homes were destroyed by the flooding. They now live in the slums at Khulna and Dhaka.
Huq stated, “But they didn’t die.”
Political agreement is not enough to stop climate change
Although there are many things that can be done to combat climate change, and much has already been done in Bangladesh, Huq believes that global unity is essential. Huq emphasizes that this crisis is a human problem and not a political one.
Huq stated, “I believe the paradigm shift that’s taking place now is that everyone is vulnerable.” “Being rich doesn’t make you immune. Although they may not be wealthy, the poor are well-versed in dealing with difficulties and 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 systems about impending cyclones, and other infrastructure have all helped to prevent the loss of life in extreme flooding or hurricanes. But Huq says that it’s mostly people being able to know what to do and just 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 said that the children have regular rehearsals. Children have responsibilities to save everyone in every household, especially those with widows or disabled people.
Khatan says that most people don’t want to leave their neighborhood, their homes.
Huq stated, “Parents and grandparents don’t like to evacuate.” “They’ll say they’ve seen this before. We won’t go. We’ll stay home. But they make them go.”
Everyone evacuates with the support of their peers who have earned their trust. Schoolchildren, volunteers, and friends all save each other’s 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.”