Bangladesh

“Bangladesh is one of the countries most vulnerable to climate change, but has increasingly developed national capacity to address climate change impacts.  Climate-related hazards are expected to increase in frequency and intensity, however, and as such is now becoming clear that adaptation will not be sufficient to avoid loss and damage caused by the adverse effects of climate change.” (Nishat et al, 2013).

Approaches to address loss and damage in Bangladesh from both extreme events and slow onset processes such as sea-level rise can be divided into four categories:

– risk reduction

 structural measures– dykes, recognized as one of the cheapest means for flood control, embankments, multi-purpose cyclone shelters, reforestation efforts and the building of river closures to reclaim land from siltation

non-structural measures- risk identification and early warning systems, rehabilitation and relocation programs (addressing issues of inadequate housing or weak emergency services and infrastructure), climate resilient agriculture (including saline tolerant crop varieties and the provision of agricultural emergency support). Reducing vulnerability in the agricultural sector requires decreasing sensitivity of crops and increasing adaptive capacity of the agricultural system.

-risk retention

(social safety nets and contingency funds, focus on resilience building).  Risk retention measures currently underway in Bangladesh are the not always succesful food for work programs and emergency food distribution after extreme events.  Recommendations for improvement include better targeting the extreme poor the programs are directed and monitoring better corruption networks.

-risk transfer

(insurance) Bangladesh presents significant barriers to successfully implementing microinsurance programs due to the extremely low penetration rate of insurance in the country.

-approaches to specifically target loss and damage from slow onset processes 

Migration as a result of sea-level rise – 14 to 30 million people in Bangladesh is expected to be displaced given one-metre rise in sea level by 2100. Impacts of sea-level rise are already visible and include salinisation of agricultural land and resulting increase in pathogen and water-borne diseases. As slow onset processes unfold during the next decades, approaches to address them need to be based on long-term transformational strategies. The Bangladeshi government has been undertaking a pilot initiative called Asrayan Project to rehabilitate homeless and landless families affected by river erosion.  By 2010, a total of 58.703 families were provided with new housing and employment opportunities.  The Project now continues in order to assist an additional 50.000 home- and landless families.  While this project is having largely positive results, relocating large population groups can have negative impacts such as pressure on economic and environmental resources.

“Migration is one approach to address loss and damage from slow onset processes and covers a spectrum from forced displacement to voluntary, temporary migration to seek livelihood opportunities.  In order to facilitate migration -both internally and internationally- proper policies will need to be in place to ensure migration helps address (and reduce) loss and damage, promote resilience, and enhance development.” (Nishat et al, 2013)

In the particular case of slow onset processes such as sea-level rise, policies should facilitate anticipated migration.

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