Thursday, December 31, 2009

The vulnerability of Bangladesh

IRIN: Low-lying Bangladesh with its 230 rivers and dense population of over 150 million has long been prone to flooding, soil erosion and saltwater intrusion, but climate change could aggravate the situation, experts and government officials warn. In a report entitled A Global Report: Reducing Disaster Risk: A Challenge for Development, the UN Development Programme (UNDP) has identified Bangladesh as the country most vulnerable to tropical cyclones and sixth most vulnerable to floods.

According to data from the government’s Centre for Environmental and Geographic Information Systems (CEGIS), two-thirds of the country is only five metres above sea level, rendering it particularly vulnerable to sea level rises and tidal waves. Melting Himalayan glaciers and an encroaching Bay of Bengal in the south, further increase the risk of flooding, experts say.

The fourth assessment report by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) predicts that an increase in monsoon rainfall across South East Asia and melting Himalayan glaciers will result in increased water volumes in rivers that flow into Bangladesh from India, Nepal, Bhutan and China.

Low-lying southern coastal regions are the most vulnerable, despite being protected by a 5,107km-long network of flood embankments. Almost half of this embankment network was damaged by recent cyclones (Sidr and Aila), leaving the whole region vulnerable to the tides, according to Bangladesh’s Comprehensive Disaster Management Programme…

Kaptai in Chittagong, Bangladesh, shot by Ziaul Hoque, Wikimedia Commons via Flickr, under the Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 License

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