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Climate change affecting Sundarbans region of Bangladesh

Few people in the Sundarban region in the southwestern fringes of Bangladesh are aware of the current international debate on climate change, yet they stand to be the worst affected.

A low-lying and densely populated country, Bangladesh may become one of the worst affected by continued climate change. Concern, present in most parts of the country, has become incresingly aware of the effects of climate change on the local communities in which it works, paticularly in the southwestern parts of the country.

Sundarbans - world’s largest mangrove

The Sundarbans, in southwestern Bangladesh, is the world’s largest delta and mangrove forest. It is a UNESCO World Heritage site, home to the legendary Bengal tiger and a uniquely diverse marine biology.

The 20,000 square kilometre forest delta stretches across the lower reaches of the Bengal basin and is shared between Bangladesh (which claims 62% of the forest) and its neighbour India. Apart from its extraordinarily diverse flora and fauna, the Sunderbans (literally “the beautiful forest” in Bengali) also provides vital natural protection to life and properties of the coastal population in cyclone prone Bangladesh.

Conditions getting worse

Over the last decade however, the sea has steadily eaten into the Sundarbans, and the entire Bengal basin region is now threatened by an ecological disaster. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) are forecasting that the already extreme weather, with its frequent severe storm surges, droughts and floods will get worse and as the waters rise, eventually submerging the entire Sundarbans.

In Shyamnagar upazila (or sub-district, the lowest level of administrative government), the inhabitants, the majority of them farmers, have noticed changes in the weather over the last decade, which have begun to severely affect them. The consequences of rising sea levels and extreme temperatures are becoming increaseingly real and immediate in their everyday lives.

Click here to read about how one of Concern’s partners is attempting to deal with this problem.