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Addressing Coastal Poverty in Bangladesh in the Context of Climate Change
Mohd. Shahadt Hossain Mahmud, PhD Rural Risk Reduction Specialist, CDMP

Abstract: In Bangladesh, one-third of the total area having proximity to the Bay of Bengal is considered as coastal zone. This area differs from the rest of the country in terms of it social and ecological settings and is largely vulnerable to global warming linked climate changes. As an evitable effect of climate change, vulnerability is increasing there day by day aggravating the poverty of coastal population. The Government of Bangladesh (GoB) is concern of it and has initiated some measures to address this problem. Although the initiatives have implication in addressing coastal poverty but those are not sufficient to address the problem. Bangladesh needs to scale up those options along with exploration of other appropriate economic opportunities. It is revealed that the developed countries who are liable for global warming linked climate changes may share the responsibility with GoB in addressing the coastal poverty of Bangladesh. Hence this article is attempted to: present an overview of coastal areas of Bangladesh and the livelihood pattern of coastal population; narrate poverty situation of coastal population and the possible risks of global warming linked climate changes; depict disaster management approach of Bangladesh that includes climate risk management framework; and talk about initiatives taken by the Government of Bangladesh to address coastal poverty, achievements, lessons learnt and way forward. The author also expects that it will help to gather opinions of regional experts to find out more effective strategies to address the coastal poverty of Bangladesh.

1. Introduction Bangladesh is the low-lying largest deltaic island in the world formed by the deposits of mud and sand left behind by three gigantic river systems viz the Brahmaputra, the Ganges and the Meghna. It is situated in between 20034' and 26038' north latitude and 88001' and 92041' east longitude and criss-crossed by over 270 rivers & tributaries. It covers an area of 143,998 sq kms and is and resided by 156 million people having per capita yearly income 574 US$. This densely populated, least developed agro-based country is very much prone to natural disasters due to her unique geographical location and monsoon climate. During last 20 years five devastating floods and four catastrophic cyclones hit the country causing deaths of about half a million people and economic damage equivalent to US$ 5.6 billion (Mahmud, 2010). In Bangladesh, 19 districts out of 64 that cover almost one-third (32%) of the county’s area have proximity to the Bay of Bengal and constituted coastal zone. This zone differs from the rest of the country in terms of social and ecological settings and is largely vulnerable to global warming linked climate changes. As an evitable effect of climate changes, vulnerability is increasing there day by day aggravating the poverty of coastal population who shares more than oneforth (28%) of total population (PDO-ICZMP, 2004a). Although the coastal zone posses wide range opportunities to contribute in overall national development, those were unexplored and not received much attention up to mid nineties. Accordingly a context of insecurity was created there, which in turn discouraged investments at coastal zone and squeezed economic activities of coastal people. The coastal vulnerabilities attracted the attention of the GoB after mid nineties and realizing the reality government declared the zone as one of the three ‘neglected regions’ (MoP, 1998) and ‘vulnerable to adverse ecological processes’ (ERD, 2003). Later on, GoB formulated Coastal Zone Policy, 2005 and Coastal Development Strategy, 2006 and adopted Estuary Development Programme along with other initiatives to address coastal vulnerabilities. This article is dedicated to have a look on it.

Addressing Coastal Poverty in Bangladesh in the Context of Climate Change


2. The Context of Climate Change Climate change as essential outcome of natural climatic evolution normally happens very slowly. But due to harmful effect of global warming the trend of climate change has got added impetus over the recent decades and resulted in rapid alteration of the timing, pattern and levels of rainfall and temperature across the globe. One of the most unexpected negative consequences of global warming is ice melting, which is the prime cause of sea level rise and inundation of coastal areas. Global warming linked climate changes are in fact hindering the livelihood strategies of millions of people through generating natural disasters of various types and magnitudes. Poor communities dependent on natural resources and ecosystem services and women with limited access to assets and decision-making processes are especially victim to such climate changes (Mahmud, 2010). The threat that climate change poses to animals and wildlife around the world has made combating it one of The Nature Conservancy’s top priorities. Experts predict that one-fourth of Earth’s species will be demolished by 2050 if the warming trend continues at its current rate. Conservancy scientists see climate change as the biggest threat against tranquil nature and secured investments in lands and waters. As temperature rises, risks of heat-related illness, flooding, severe storm impacts in coastal areas and insect-borne diseases increases. Bangladesh is very much susceptible to climate change because of its unique geographical location. Its deltaic shape at the funnel of sea has made it so vulnerable to all sorts of oceanographic hazards. Other major reasons are: monsoon climate & topography huge network of rivers and channels enormous discharge of water heavily laden with sediments large number of islands in between the channels shallow funnelling to the coastal area strong tidal and wind action
Addressing Coastal Poverty in Bangladesh in the Context of Climate Change


3. Perspective of Coastal Zone In Bangladesh, the coastal zone is different to a considerable context from rest of the country because of its unique characteristics. The Policy Note of the Government of Bangladesh (MoWR, 1999) clearly indicates that the natural resources of coastal zone are as different from their terrestrial counterparts as to require different and special forms of management. It is ecologically important because it contains critical terrestrial and aquatic habitats like mangrove forests, wetlands and tidal flats. As a matter of fact it is blessed by world’s largest mangrove forest Sundarban, longest sandy beach Coxsbazar, 72 offshore islands including attractive coral land mass Saint Martin. Available data indicates that this coastal zone has lower population density with higher literacy rates, comparatively better gender balanced population, special livelihood groups (viz marine fishers, salt farmers, bawali and mawali), large disadvantaged groups (viz erosion victims, island dwellers) and distinct ethnic communities (viz Rakhaine, Pundra-Khatrio, Munda and Mahato). Coastal zone of Bangladesh has diverse resources including mangroves, coastal and marine fisheries, coastal agriculture, shrimp, crab and salt. There is also opportunity of land generated through accretion process that may provide settlement facilities to the growing coastal population. Management of on-shore and off-shore oil and gas fields and other potential energy sources like wind and tidal energy, sea ports located at Mongla and Chittagong and surrounding industrial infrastructure, tourism opportunities at coastal beaches, islands and Sundarban may create huge employment opportunity for coastal population. Yet, vast population residing in coastal zone are passing distressing lives as victims of cyclone, storm surge, drainage congestions, salinity intrusion, land erosion and climate changes. According to 2001 Population Census, coastal zone comprises 6.85 million households with a population of 35.1 million. Their livelihoods are also varied and some are very specific to the zone that is often influenced by different coastal conditions. The major livelihood groups are presented below:

Addressing Coastal Poverty in Bangladesh in the Context of Climate Change


Table 1: Major Livelihood Groups of Coastal Bangladesh
Livelihood Group Rural Areas: Farm labour Small farmer Medium and large farmer Fisher Salt farmer Shrimp fry collector Forest resource collector Others Urban Areas: Poor Non-Poor 11.7 11.7 2001 Population Census indicates that urban households are 23.3% equally divided into poor & non-poor. 25.5 25.2 6.7 7.5 0.6 2.7 1.7 11.3 Estimates are based on 2001 % of HHs Remarks

Population Census and Census of Agriculture. Population Census of 2001 indicates that rural households are 76.7%. In this table the same is calculated 81.2%. The reason of slightly higher percentage is some groups collector collector) groups. (salt and are farmer, forest included shrimp fry

resource in other

The vulnerability context of coastal zone may be explained in terms of problems that people face, which affect their asset base, their choices and income. It has regional variations as well as variations with regard to socio-economic conditions of the people. One unique feature of the coastal zone is its distinct vulnerabilities that many people face. These are moved varied and intense than those faced by even poorer and most vulnerable inland communities. In fact coastal people are vulnerable because they live in an extremely dynamic estuarine environment facing all threats originated from ocean. Besides, there are threats of climate change and upstream land and water uses. These threats affect almost every aspect of live and limit livelihood choices of the people. Major vulnerabilities are described in below table:

Addressing Coastal Poverty in Bangladesh in the Context of Climate Change


Table 2: Overview of Vulnerabilities in Coastal Bangladesh
Vulnerabilities Cyclone, storm surge Land erosion Flood Drainage congestion Salinity Intrusion Drought Earthquake Arsenic contamination Ecosystem degradation Pollution Climate change Vulnerable areas Islands, exposed areas Estuaries, islands, rivers Exposed areas Khulna, Jessore, Noakhali Exposed areas Satkhira Chittagong All over Marine, Sundarban Chittagong, Khulna All over Present status Devastating but seasonal Serious but seasonal Serious but seasonal Localized but year round Localized and seasonal Localized and seasonal Unpredictable Serious and year round Serious and year round Serious and year round Serious and year round Aggravation Increasing Increasing Increasing Increasing Increasing Increasing Increasing Increasing Increasing Increasing Increasing

4. Coastal Poverty Situation The coastal zone is slightly income-poor compared to the rest of the country. Average per capita GDP of coastal population in 1999-2000 (at current market price of that time) was BDT 18,198 compared to BDT 18,291 outside the coastal zone. Here poor and extreme poor separately accounts for 52% and 25% against national average of 49% and 23% respectively. Most alarming fact is that despite rich sources of marine food their calorie intake is relatively lower than the population residing at outside the coastal zone. Here out of 19 districts, severe poverty prevails in three districts while much lower GDP per capita in seven districts and higher GDP per capita in two districts. Among the livelihood groups, incidence of poverty is the highest among agricultural labourers. In coastal zone poverty is aggravated by lack of employment, which is further deteriorating due to increase of population (BBS, 2002).

Addressing Coastal Poverty in Bangladesh in the Context of Climate Change


It is estimated that a quarter of a million new jobs need to be created annually on the average, and about forth-fifths of these jobs should be available in urban areas to overcome coastal poverty (PDO-ICZMP, 2004a). As a matter of fact, like other areas of Bangladesh coastal women are poorer among the poor. Here widespread gender gap is prevalent in all spheres and at all levels including health, nutrition, education, employment and political participation. Coastal zone also lacks in physical facilities with respect to market infrastructure though those are critically important for economic life. It is found that the average area per growth centre in and outside coastal zone is 80 km2 and 66 km2 respectively. The lower number of growth centres may be considered disincentive to women’s market access, economic participation and mobility (PDO-ICZMP, 2004b). Services with respect to water, sanitation, health and electricity are poor in coastal zone. Here density of running tube-wells per sq km is 7 while 8 in outside coastal areas. Only 11 percent households posses water-sealed latrine, compared to 14 percent nationally. One hospital bed (run by government) is prevalent against 4,637 persons compared to 4,276 persons nationally. Access to national electricity grid is limited with only 31 percent households. It is apprehended that some parts of coastal zone particularly the off-shore islands being remote and not accessible, will not be connected with the national electricity grid in the foreseeable future (PDO-ICZMP, 2003). In coastal zone, the average area under a UP is 35 km2 compared to 32 km2 outside coastal zone. Since proximity to Union Parishad (UP) office is assumed to be positively correlated with services rendered by a UP in respective jurisdictions, we can reasonably assume that coastal people are enjoying lesser services compared to the people living outside coastal zone. Another distressing point is that majority of rural households in coastal areas is either landless or small farmer despite social structures are mainly based on land holdings (PDO-ICZMP, 2004).

Addressing Coastal Poverty in Bangladesh in the Context of Climate Change


5. Anticipated Climate Change Impact Climate Changes are resulted in increasing frequency and severity of natural disasters with adverse impact on natural ecosystem and quality of human survival. Its possible major risks in coastal Bangladesh are: (a) Sea level rise that may aggravates: floods and river bank erosion; salinity intrusion in agricultural lands; shortage of pure drinking water; water logging; undesired change in bio-diversity and loss of wildlife. (b) Unpredicted rainfalls that may be liable for: droughts and decrease productivity in agriculture; deforestation and change in cropping pattern; unemployment of agricultural laborers. (c) Risks related with health that may derive from: increased incidence of water-borne and air-borne diseases; bacteria and parasites of warmer and wetter conditions. (d) Loss/lack of entitlements that may causes: loss of standing crops; loss/damage of livestock/dairy/poultry/fisheries; loss of trees/fruits; loss/damage of vegetable garden. (e) Disruption of social net-work that may create: unemployed and poverty; insecurity, crime, violence; migration of people. According to the projection of Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), global temperature will rise 1.80 to 4.00 by the last decade of 21st century that may result in 0.18 to 0.79 metres of sea level rise. National Adaptation Programme of Action (NAPA) predicts that sea level is expected to rise in Bangladesh about 88 cm by 2075. This may cause inundation of 17% land and salinity move up to 60 km north, serious water logging, severe drainage congestion, disruption in coastal polders, strong cyclones and tidal surges, bigger floods and more river erosion, change in coastal morphological dynamics and migration of 35 million people to cities. Hence, Bangladesh is identified by UNDP to be the most vulnerable country in the world to tropical cyclones and the sixth most vulnerable country to floods.

Addressing Coastal Poverty in Bangladesh in the Context of Climate Change


6. Disaster Management Approach in Bangladesh Bangladesh has created a simplistic model to guide disaster risk reduction and emergency response management efforts. The model has three key elements and ensures that the move to a more comprehensive risk reduction culture remains central to all efforts. There are two major components of comprehensive disaster management model, Risk Reduction and Emergency Response. Risk Reduction has also another two elements: defining risk environment and managing risk environment. The key characteristics of this approach are: • it provides a framework to guide the achievement of the Hyogo Framework for Action commitments; • it clearly articulates the key elements of disaster management and their interactive relationships; • it facilitates the transition from generic hazard based to specific risk based programmes through the inclusion of technical inputs; • • it provides guidance for the design of policy, planning and training; it provides a mechanism to achieve consistency in process and methodology; • it ensures preparedness and response strategies are influenced by technical and traditional considerations. In Bangladesh, disaster risk reduction (DRR) and climate change adaptation (CCA) share a common space for reducing the vulnerability of communities and achieving sustainable development. It is because, climate change is altering disaster risk, not only through increased weather related risks, sea-level rise (SLR) and temperature and rainfall variability, but also through increases in societal vulnerabilities from stresses on water availability, agriculture and ecosystems. While CCA is an adjustment in natural and human systems, DRR is the development and application of policies and practices that minimize risks to vulnerabilities and disasters.

Addressing Coastal Poverty in Bangladesh in the Context of Climate Change


Thus DRR is an essential part of adaptation is providing the first line of defence against CC impacts. However, Bangladesh developed a Climate Risk Management Framework to overview the linkages between mitigation, CRM and DRR and their relationship with development and sector planning.

Climate Risk Management Framework
Mitigation Kyoto Protocol Global Warming

Macro Country Analysis •Temperature Variation •Sea Level rise •Monsoonal Rainfall Climate Risk Management (UNFCCC)

Research, Modeling and Mapping

Capacity Building

Micro Sectoral Analysis Cross Sectoral Analysis
Capacity Building

•Development Planning •Sectoral and Agency Planning •Risk Reduction Action Planning

Community Risk Assessment Disaster Risk Reduction (HFA) Community Adaptation

PRSP and MDG Goals

In Bangladesh, climate change threatens both previous achievements and future efforts to reduce poverty. In order address this problem GoB initiated Comprehensive Disaster Management Programme (CDMP) in 2004 as a key strategy in achieving the Government’s Vision and Mission on Disaster Management. Meanwhile CDMP developed a framework model for

mainstreaming DRR integrating climate risks and followed by community level adaptation which is working for sustainable livelihood development and poverty reduction.

Addressing Coastal Poverty in Bangladesh in the Context of Climate Change


7. Initiatives to Address Coastal Poverty Coastal poverty and coastal opportunity in Bangladesh are not hidden issues rather it is exposed to policy makers as well as development activists in many ways. But those issues were not given proper attention in the past. Recently the Government of Bangladesh (GoB) has initiated some measures to address this problem. Below are the mentions of some measures taken by the GoB: PDO-ICZMP: stands Programme Development Office for Integrated Coastal Zone Management Plan, which is a program under Water Resources Planning Organization (WARPO) of the Ministry of Water Resources (MoWR) jointly financed by Netherlands and UK. Land Reclamation: an initiative of Bangladesh Water Development Board (BWDB) to recover accredited char and off-shore lands. Green Belt Creation: initiative of Department of Forest (DoF) to protect cyclone and storm surges through creating protection of trees. Char Livelihood Project: BWDB leaded initiative supported by five relevant departments to distribute khas lands among landless poor and uphold their livelihoods Coastal Rehabilitation Programme: BWDB initiated programme to construct polders at different places Empowerment Coastal Fisheries Community: an initiative of Ministry of Fisheries (MoF) to uphold the livelihood of fisher folk community Coastal Afforestation Programme (on going): a programme of Ministry of Environment and Forest (MoEF) to create forest on the bank of sea and coastal embankment RR schemes for Sidr & Aila affected people: schemes of risk reduction adopted at Sidr and Aila affected areas by GO-NGO-INGOs and development partners.

Addressing Coastal Poverty in Bangladesh in the Context of Climate Change


8. Achievements It is difficult to mention any significant achievement with regard to addressing coastal poverty in Bangladesh since no substantive measure was taken in this respect. Although the Government of Bangladesh (GoB) in addition to national level regular safety-net programmes has initiated some measures to address this problem, most of those were indirect in nature and had limited implication over the problem. Yet, the following steps may be treated as first stage achievement in the way to address coastal poverty in Bangladesh: Coastal Zone Policy (CPZPo), 2005: establishes the goal of integrated coastal zone management to create conditions, in which the reduction of poverty, development of sustainable livelihoods and the integration of the coastal zone into national processes can take place. Coastal Development Strategy (CDS), 2006: the linking pin in the ICZM process, dedicated to linking the CZPo with concrete development programmes and interventions. Polders, embankments & shelters: constructed 123 polders, more

than 5000 km of embankments and more than 2000 multi-purpose cyclone shelters. Land Reclamation: more than 50,000 ha lands were reclaimed along the Noakhali coast through Meghna cross dam. Mangrove Plantation: vast areas in newly accreted chars and islands have been put under mangrove plantation. Cyclone Preparedness Programme (CPP): Bangladesh Red Crescent Society (BDRCS) initiated CPP in the early 1970’s that eventually developed into a world model of physical and institutional infrastructure for disaster management in cyclone prone areas. Promotion of Saline Tolerant HYV (BR 47, 15 types of vegetables) and implementation of various RR schemes in Sidr and Alia affected areas.

Addressing Coastal Poverty in Bangladesh in the Context of Climate Change


9. Lesson Learnt Favourable mindset of relevant stakeholders is essential Needs horizontal-vertical integration at national, sectoral & local level Should be emphasized in Annual Development Planning Requires integration of DRR and CRM through effective partnerships among wide range actors Commitment, motivation and financial support is very much needed to address coastal poverty

10. Way Forward Need scale up of the above mentioned initiatives along with management of: land generated through natural accretion diverse resources of Sundarban coastal and marine fisheries coastal agriculture, shrimp, crab and salt on-shore and off-shore gas fields coastal wind and tidal energy sea ports located at Mongla and Chittagong tourism at beaches, islands and Sundarban Developed nations liable for CC should contribute to address coastal poverty of Bangladesh.

Addressing Coastal Poverty in Bangladesh in the Context of Climate Change


BBS, 2002: Statistical Yearbook of Bangladesh 2001, Bangladesh Bureau of Statistics, Dhaka: 2002 ERD, 2003: Bangladesh – A National Strategy for Economic Growth, Poverty Reduction and Social Development, Dhaka: Ministry of Finance, March, 2003 GoB, 2008, Bangladesh Climate Change Strategy and Action Plan, Dhaka: MoEF, September, 2008 Mahmud, Dr. Mohd. Shahadt Hossain, (2010): Disaster Management and Climate Change: Bangladesh Perspective” paper presented in the Climate Change Science-Policy Dialogue organized by BCAS in collaboration with EU, UNEP, IPCC and some other international organizations on 9th February, 2010 at Pan Pacific Sonargoan Hotel, Dhaka, Bangladesh. MoWR, 2006: Coastal Development Strategy, Water Resources and planning Organization, Dhaka: February, 2006 PDO-ICZMP, 2003, Coastal Livelihoods – Situation and Context, Programme Development Office for Integrated Coastal Zone Management Plan, Dhaka: September, 2003 PDO-ICZMP, 2004, Living in the Coast - People and Livelihood, Programme Development Office for Integrated Coastal Zone Management Plan, Dhaka: March, 2004 PDO-ICZMP, 2004a, Living in the Coast - Problems, Opportunities and Challenges, Programme Development Office for Integrated Coastal Zone Management Plan, Dhaka: June, 2004 PDO-ICZMP, 2004b, Women of the Coast – A Gender Status Paper of the Coastal Zone, Programme Development Office for Integrated Coastal Zone Management Plan, Dhaka: January, 2004

Addressing Coastal Poverty in Bangladesh in the Context of Climate Change