From the Editor-in-Chief: Seriously, let’s think of the problem

Enayetullah Khan
Thursday, October 20th, 2016
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To what extent and how quickly the implications of climate change can affect Bangladesh is no longer an untold story. In fact, climate change, for the past more than three decades, has cruelly been unfolding its many layers of adversity for people everywhere. There are happenings of natural calamities in frequent numbers around the whole world, which especially developing nations are victims to. Incidents of disasters, of different categories, in recent times have outnumbered those in previous years, causing grievous harm to food security and biodiversity. To our utter dismay, Cyclone Roanu, the most recent instance in the category of disasters, has left similar distressing marks on the lives of people in the coastal regions of Bangladesh, inundating numerous parts of the region and mixing high levels of salinity with the freshwater bodies, thus affecting seriously agricultural production in the area.

 

The government’s step of transferring the vulnerable population and livestock to cyclone shelters quite earlier was much appreciated by analysts, and for which reason the number of likely deaths was kept as low as possible. But its move of removing salinity from the freshwater of the region, to avoid any threat to the food chain of the entire locality, was rather unconvincing as also inadequate. A report sometime ago revealed the fact that 97 percent of the overall freshwater sources of the locality had turned highly salty and fishes in these water bodies had already died. Obviously these drinking water sources posed serious health consequences for local people, especially for women who mainly bear the responsibility of fetching fresh water for their families. Other than merely dumping polders to block the breaches in embankments, the government’s simple pragmatic measures earlier, vis-a-vis repair and maintenance of embankments on a regular basis with the involvement of local people who perhaps know the nature of the Bay of Bengal better than the policymakers, could have avoided such a situation.

 

A durable and integrated management policy, be it during natural catastrophes or in other emergencies, should always there at the policymaking level. Developing countries like Bangladesh face a difficult challenge in meeting the demand for development of an integrated course of action, quickly adaptable to a crisis. Certainly, effective adaptation to climate change requires an efficient use and preservation of land, water, energy and other vital resources, and coordinated efforts to minimize trade-offs and maximize synergies. The policy process regarding adapting to climate change, in Bangladesh, as in some other developing nations of South Asia, generally follows a sectoral approach, which is why if one sector is affected the others remain overlooked. That is the reason why we should go for an integrated approach in handling calamities. Ad hoc approaches cannot be a sustainable solution to crises of such magnitude.

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