As world leaders continue to meet at international climate change summits, discussing future carbon emissions targets, the atmosphere continues to heat up and weather patterns continue to change. Developed countries and developing countries are at loggerheads over who should lead the way in taking the drastic action needed to protect the world’s environment. The conclusions of the Durban summit in South Africa suggest that these talks are still a long way from producing any definitive action by the world’s leaders and meanwhile the effects are already being felt by the most vulnerable nations.
Located in the corner of southern Asia, bordering between India and Burma. The people of Bangladesh bear witness to the continued destruction that climate change is having on their densely populated country every day. Communities in this poverty stricken, low-lying country have experienced the destruction of two Cyclones in the last five years, this region is prone to severe flooding from glacier melting from the Himalayas coupled with seasonal Monsoon rains. Each year thousands of people are uprooted and forced to take refuge in makeshift shelters along the embankments throughout the country as they seek to escape the wrath of Mother Nature.
In the Shikaribari and Pobna regions, which have been subjected to the destruction of Cyclone Aila, climate displaced refugees have now started to return to their homes and begin to rebuild their lives. This has been possible due to the completion of ring dams in 2009 and 2010 along the banks of the Ganges Delta. However, high salinity levels caused by the flooding has damaged most of the surrounding agricultural land forcing people to continuously rely day to day on International Aid distribution.
The people that have been able to return to their land are now taking the initiative. They’ve drained areas of water logged land using shallow engines to pump out the brackish water. They are also freeing up the tidal water by cutting gates into the embankments to restore the natural flow of the river. High levels of salinity in the water table has forced farmers to shift away from traditional agricultural methods, as the crops are unable to grow in the new chemical makeup of the land. A modified salt-resistant rice has been developed by the Bangladesh Rice Research Institute which is proving successful.