Briefing Document No.

4

Socio-Economic Implications of Climate Change for Bangladesh

N.J. Ericksen

Q.K. Ahmad

A. R. Chowdhury

Bangladesh Unnayan Parishad (BUP) Dhaka,Bangladesh

Environmental and Resource Centre for Studies (CEARS)* University of Waikato Hamilton, New Zealand

Climatic Research Unit (CRU) University of East Anglia Norwich, United Kingdom

* CEARS became IGCI (International Global Change Institute) in 1997

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TABLE OF CONTENTS
PREFACE EXECUTIVE SUMMARY SOCIO-ECONOMIC IMPLICATIONS OF CLIMATE CHANGE FOR BANGLADESH CLIMATE AND SOCIETY: AN INTERACTIVE PERSPECTIVE HOW DOES CLIMATE CURRENTLY AFFECT BANGLADESHI SOCIETY AND ECONOMY? Floodplain Resources Climate-driven food supply Fragmentation and subdivision Climatic Hazards Cyclones Floods Droughts Secondary hazards Capacity to respond Characterising Society Resiliency Vulnerability Sustainability WHAT SOCIETAL TRENDS MAY INFLUENCE THE VULNERABILITY OF BANGLADESH TO CHANGES IN CLIMATE AND SEA LEVEL? Society in Transition Land and wealth Economic growth Aid and relief Environmental Interventions Irrigation Floodcontrol FCD/1 Projects Flood Action Plan Industry and Infrastructure Industry Infrastructure V Population and Settlement Population growth factors Rural settlement Urban development Population, settlement and vulnerability Migration and Employment Core to periphery Rural cycling Urban magnet International movements Migration and vulnerability Health and Education Health care Educational opportunities Poverty Malnutrition Water-borne diseases Vector-borne diseases 15 15 16 17 17 18 18 18 18 19 19 19 19 20 20 21 22 23

vii

1 1

2 2 2 3 3 5 5 5 7 7 7 7 8 8

WHAT ARE THE POSSIBLE SOCIOECONOMIC IMPACTS OF CLIMATE CHANGE ON BANGLADESH IN THE FUTURE? Current Vulnerability Societal change Natural events and vulnerable places Future Vulnerability Natural Events A B-A-U scenario At risk groups WHAT ALTERNATIVES ARE THERE FOR FUTURE ADJUSTMENT TO CLIMATE AND SEA-LEVEL CHANGES? Hazard Adjustments Socio-economic Adjustments KNOWLEDGE GAPS AND FUTURE RESEARCH NEEDS WHAT SHOULD BE DONE?

25 26 26 26 28 28 24 30

9 9 9 10 11 12 12 12 13 13 13 14 14

30 30 31

32 33

LIST OF FIGURES
Figure 1. Interaction of climate and society 2. Land levels in relation to normal yearly floods 3. Relationship of crop seasons and fish harvest to floods and irrigation 4. Areas of Bangladesh exposed to storm surge and affected by cyclones 5. Areas of Bangladesh affected by the severe floods of 1987 and 1988 6. Areas of Bangladesh affected by severe thoughts 7. Upazilas in Bangladesh affected by riverbank erosion 8. Trends in the distribution of the percentage of income to households 9. Economically depressed Upazilas in Bangladesh 1990 10. General location of large-scale, fibre, and food industries in Bangladesh 11. General location of transport, communication, and energy infrastructure in Bangladesh 12. Historical growth in total and urban population in 30 year periods, 1901-1991 13. Growth in total population from 1950 to 1990 and projections to 2025 and 2050 14. Distribution of population density in Bangladesh districts in 1991 15. Cities and towns of Bangladesh and their growth in population 1971 and 1991 16. Main migration patterns in Bangladesh 17. Socio-economic and environmental factors causing malnutrition in Bangladesh 18. Seasonal variation in malnutrition among 0-5 year old children in three villages 19. Seasonal variation in nutritional deficiency among 0-5 year old children in three villages 20. Clusters of V cholera isolation in the 12 months following the 1988 floods 21. Incidence and proportion Pf of malaria in Bangladesh between 1979 and 1988 22. Distribution of malaria vectors and the incidence of malaria in Bangladesh in the late 1980s 23. Spatial distribution in Bangladesh of five main types of severe natural events 24. Spatial distribution in Bangladesh of selected human activities 25. Schematic diagram showing main relationships between three main elements for reducing vulnerability to global warming

2 2 3 6 6 6 6 10 11 14 14 15 15 16 16 18 21 22 22 23 24’ 24 27 27 33

LIST OF TABLES
Table 1. Bangladesh droughts, floods and cyclones, 1960-1992 2. Comparison of health care in Bangladesh 1981 3. Socio-economic trends and vulnerability in Bangladesh 4 20 26

nitrous oxide and the chlorofluorocarbons. First. on the threat of global climate change. one the least developed nations of the world. may also be one of the most vulnerable to climate change. prepared and reviewed extensively by the world’s leading experts in the field. Dhaka). in 1992 the United Nations Conference on Environment and Development (UNCED) in Rio de Janeiro focussed the attention of the world’s national governments. The Framework Convention on Climate Change. particularly with respect to the vulnerable developing countries of the world. The findings of the IPCC. the Centre for Environmental and Resource Studies (CEARS. impacts and policy implications of climate change. and the storm surge of April 1991 which resulted in the deaths of nearly 140. The objective of Phase I was to review and assess the current state of knowledge concerning climate change and its implications for Bangladesh. reflects both the concern about the effects of climate change and the urgent need for action to prevent or reduce its potential impacts. This document is one of a set of seven Briefing Documents that address various dimensions of the climate change issue for Bangladesh. in 1990 the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) published its findings on the science. New Zealand)* and the Climatic Research Unit (CRU. Two major events helped generate this attention. could cause the world to warm and sea level to rise. Second. the Ford Foundation and the British Overseas Development Administration launched an investigation of the implications of climate change for the environment and people of Bangladesh. University of Waikato. In recognition of this fact. interdisciplinary assessment was a set of “Briefing Documents”. University of East Anglia. such as carbon dioxide.PREFACE Although the “greenhouse effect” and “global climate change” have been the subjects of scientific scrutiny for many decades. and to identify how best to move forward with specific research projects for Phase II. Generous support for Phase I (two years) was provided to the Bangladesh Unnayan Parishad (BUP. including: • • • • • • The Greenhouse Effect and Climate Change Sea-Level Changes in the Bay of Bengal Effect of Climate and Sea-Level Changes on the Natural Resources of Bangladesh SocioEconomic Implications of Climate Change for Bangladesh Legal Implications of Global Climate Change for Bangladesh Climate Change and Sea-Level Rise: the Case of the Coast The Implications of Climate Change for Bangladesh: a Synthesis Based on the review of knowledge concerning global warming and its possible effects there appear to be three main findings that suggest the way forward for policy-relevant research in Bangladesh. only recently have they received widespread public attention. . are recent reminders of the degree to which the people of Bangladesh are subject to present-day variations in climate. signed by nations at UNCED. * CEARS became IGCI (International Global Change Institute) in 1997. confirmed that the increasing atmospheric concentrations of “greenhouse” gases. The main output of this collaborative.000 coastal inhabitants. UK). to be carried out over two Phases. as well as organisations and individuals outside the governments. The widespread flood in 1988 which submerged about two-thirds of the country. Bangladesh. The possibility of changes in climate and sea-level rise must be considered seriously in the context of the future development of Bangladesh. methane.

Doos. CRU and elsewhere. these data and models have not yet been combined in a way that would allow systematic analyses of the impacts of climate change and variability to be easily carried out. for their incisive comments~ and guidance. climate and vector-borne diseases). Bo R. tentative though they may be in certain cases. regional and national levels. climate and agriculture). Warrick Project Co-Directors 18 September 1993 . adapt to climate and sea-level change (including fluctuations and extremes). In such cases. sufficient data and models are available for conducting sensitivity analyses of the potential effects of climate and sealevel changes on Bangladesh. subsidence. P. Michael Kelly. sedimentation and relative sea-level rise rates in the coastal zone. should provide a better understanding of the existing and emerging issues and. it became apparent that there is little understanding of the full range of strategies by which the people and organisations in Bangladesh could. we wish to thank all others. Second. or would. who have contributed in one way or another to this effort. On behalf of all the authors who collaborated in the assessment and the preparation of the Briefing Documents. for other aspects of the problem. the generation of new knowledge is perhaps less urgent than the integration of existing knowledge. Haider. to be carried out at local. Hugh Brammer. for some aspects of the problem (for example. The analyses and specific findings presented in each Briefing Document in this series. hence. Ahmad and R.K. and M. we should like to acknowledge the contributions of the following individuals: Raymond C. be useful as inputs into the policy-making process. Potter (British ODA) for their support and advice. Q. However. but also at CEARS. Maniruzzaman Miah (project Steering Group members). S. Finally. the lack of basic knowledge precludes detailed analyses of the effects of climate change and variability. particularly at BUP.Z. In these circumstances. and all the participants of the International Workshop on Climate Change and its Implications for Bangladesh (held in Dhaka on June 10-11. It is this capacity for human response that largely determines the extent of vulnerability and resilience to environmental change. The lack of knowledge concerning human response represents a major gap in knowledge in attempting to assess the implications of global warming and sea-level rise for Bangladesh. These three general findings provide the framework in which specific research tasks are being designed for Phase II of the continuing research on the effects of climate change on Bangladesh. Offenheiser and Charles Bailey (The Ford Foundation) and Harry L. throughout the Phase I assessment.A. basic data are not available and critical relationships between climate and environment are poorly understood (for example.First. Third. This lack of knowledge hinders comprehensive climate impact assessment for Bangladesh and the development and implementation of strategies for reducing adverse effects. 1993) for their helpful comments and suggestions for final revision of the Briefing Documents.

. On the other hand. is often disrupted by floods. The medium UN projection gives 235 million by 2025AD and 305 million by 2050AD. such as heat stress. Climate changes such as these would affect plant and animal growth in Bangladesh. protected areas will remain at threat from supra-design events which may be made more likely under a changing climate. For example. Seasonal moves are an increasing trend. EMPLOYMENT AND CLIMATE CHANGE Escaping adversity due to lost land and employment lies behind most migration. lowering the resistance of large segments of the population to disease. and urban drought. depending on how society adapted to the environment. This increasing concentration of people in large urban areas could increase the risk of catastrophe from rare climatic events and is likely to create additional risks of climate impacts more akin to other urbanised countries. but increase the rate of soil erosion and leaching (a detrimental effect on agriculture). is believed to affect climate by altering the Earth’s green-house effect. evolving technologies and economical and social structures alter existing systems and make many sectors of. depend more on the direction of technological. such as water. the linkages between climate. Overall. demographic. Traditionally. the population of Bangladesh has doubled to 110 million. Permanent movements are from densely settled core to less dense periphery and from rural to urban areas. large scale environmental interventions. VULNERABLE IN TRANSITION Bangladesh is a newly developing country in transition from being a traditional rice-growing society. a bountiful floodplain rice-growing system. some beneficial. HEALTH CARE AND EDUCATION A population that is healthy and educated is better able to avoid poverty and the adverse effects of climate variations. such as increased CO2 enhancing plant growth. such as improved crop production. riverbank erosion and possibly cyclones. Some effects would be beneficial. A continuation of high migration rates is likely to aggravate the potential socio-economic impact of climate and sea-level changes in future. some would be detrimental. The urban population is projected to grow at a faster rate. Modelling these processes suggests that mean global temperatures for Bangladesh may rise by 1. economic and social trends than on the rates of climate and sea-level change. Even on a seasonal basis. poverty and malnutrition remain rife. In the future. urban flooding. Limited opportunities mean many migrants relocate not only in areas at risk from climate extremes (droughtprone western districts. such as increased flooding. In the long term. about 5 percent per year. and cyclones. some detrimental. Changes in natural resources will have social and economic effects. Thus. In the drive for modernisation. demographic. migrants are particularly susceptible to environmental disruptions. through industrial and agricultural practices. finely tuned to seasonal climate variations. The high density rural areas will continue to supply migrants to low density areas and to cities. Given these adverse effects. forests. even though other benefits may accrue from climate change. increased rainfall might increase the amount of water available for irrigation (a beneficial effect on agriculture). Modelling also suggests that these changes would increase annual rainfall in Bangladesh. and groups in. For example. such as flood control and irrigation. This is because the pace of change in society is likely to be much more rapid than for climate and sea-level change. The socio-economic effects of climate change therefore arise from interactions between climate and society and how these in turn affect both natural and managed environments. because they lack supportive infrastructure and employment. however. society more vulnerable to significant variations in climate and sea level. but also from adverse social and environmental conditions. sea level may rise by about 30 cm. In response to global warming. however. and grasslands (see Briefing Document #3 Natural resources). and socio-economic trends and how they influence Bangladesh’s ability to adapt in order to strike a new balance between resources and hazards. may buffer people from lesser and more frequent events thereby enhancing the resource base. in Bangladesh. The exposure of people to climatic extremes will persist and is likely to increase as more intense use is made of high risk areas.5 to 1. the trend of high population growth in Bangladesh should increase vulnerability to climate and sea level change. and active floodplains). climatic variations have provided opportunities (resources) and imposed costs (hazards). What are the socioeconomic implications for Bangladesh? CLIMATE-SOCIETY INTERACTION A change in climate will affect natural resources. These impacts on agricultural resources (plant and soil) would in turn affect the social and economic circumstances of farmers and other socioeconomic sectors dependent upon their production. uncertain (Briefing Documents #1 Climate change and #2 Sea-level rise). Bangladesh’s vulnerability may. While recent trends in improved health care and education in Bangladesh are encouraging.EXECUTIVE SUMMARY Increases in the production of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases. the extent to which Bangladesh will be affected (whether adversely or beneficially) will depend on the future technological. Exposure to natural disasters depreciates marginal landholdings and triggers many people to relocate. SETTLEMENT AND CLIMATE CHANGE Since 1965. The effects on winter rainfall are. In rural areas the population density may increase by over half by 2025AD. In general. MIGRATION. cyclone-prone coasts. droughts. POPULATION.8°C by 2050.

but not sufficient condition for these diseases. wetter conditions in Bangladesh. precipitation and humidity influence the incidence of water-borne (and air-borne) diseases.measures that would prove helpful should climate and sea levels change in future. there is a need to examine the range of adaptive measures that are available for coping with environmental adversity. Climate change in future could encourage such diseases. there is a need to examine how customary behaviour is being modified in response to changing social and environmental conditions. In this future of Bangladesh. Rainfall and poorly maintained human settlements facilitate breeding of mosquitoes. WATER. Drought and flood facilitate their transmission. OPTIMISTIC SCENARIO Rather than focus on “business-as-usual” investment and GNP growth targets. WHAT SHOULD BE DONE? Fulfilling these needs requires a programme of interdisciplinary research (integrating social sciences and natural sciences) aimed at developing an optimum strategy for reducing vulnerability to climatic extremes. low economic growth. and catastrophic losses will become more frequent. However. as well as food production.AND VECTOR-BORNE DISEASES Temperature. The outcomes of this research would aim at providing decision makers with an indication of priorities for various kinds of activities for preparing against the adverse effects of climatic variation and change. B-A-U SCENARIO If the recent past becomes “business-as-usual” in future. in some areas there is a lack of fundamental knowledge concerning the relationship between climate variation and socio-economic effects. would help buffer Bangladesh against the ill-effects of future climate change. parasites. . Fourth. Improvements in health care and education. climate is a necessary. an “optimistic” scenario would emphasise productive employment targets aimed at releasing the creative energies of the country’s poor people at the grassroots level. KNOWLEDGE GAPS AND FUTURE RESEARCH NEEDS What lack of knowledge impedes the ability of Bangladesh to better adapt to environmental change and vulnerability? First. Bacteria. are traditional technologies being adapted to changing socio-economic conditions. there is an urgent need to develop means of empowering the landless and poor with entitlements to resources to ensure their resiliency in times of scarcity. Sixth. Sanitation tied to poverty is the main condition for diarrhoeal diseases (like cholera). especially among the marginalised poor. Fifth. Should adverse climate and sea level changes occur under this “business-as-usual” scenario. skill training. and their vectors may breed faster and live longer in warmer.nutrition and disease are apparent. If accompanied by a pattern of extreme natural events and hazard adjustments similar to those of the recent past. loss of lives and property will escalate. Second. how. and organisational support at local level. and burgeoning unemployment will persist. So too will improvements in safe water supplies and waste disposal systems. especially if economic development is impeded. and migrants from infected forest areas and/or migrants returning to the plains are a main reason for its resurgence on the lowlands. then the number of people at risk will increase.. mass poverty. and to what extent. research is needed on the various forms of migration and resettlement of the landless to help anticipate the likely dimensions of problems that may arise if climate extremes worsen and sea-level rises. These social adjustments would be accompanied by an improved mix of structural and nonstructural measures aimed at reducing the susceptibility of society to natural hazards-. a new market economy may evolve in which the poor are mainstreamed through an employment-based strategy anchored on: basic education. Third.

to influence social and/or climatic trends.) CLIMATE AND SOCIETY: AN INTERACTIVE PERSPECTIVE Climate influences the water. as do relationships between them. such as in the Chandpur Irrigation Project. beneficially or detrimentally. Disasters are relatively common. and the planting of mangroves to encourage char (low island) accretion. a society— like that of Bangladesh— adapts to the natural environment. the provision of coastal embankments to keep out tidal flooding with saline water. might have on society can be appraised. such as moving from a traditional farming economy to a modern farming and industrial market economy. like floods. This theme is explored through four main questions: How does the current climate affect Bangladesh society and economy? What societal trends may influence the vulnerability of Bangladesh to changes in climate? What are the possible socio-economic impacts of climate change on Bangladesh in future? What alternatives are there for future adaptations to climate change? The document concludes with a summary of research needs and a framework for prioritising options. This is the theme that is explored in this document. Understanding the main relationships between society and climate will help assess the socio-economic vulnerability or resiliency of the country should it in future experience a period of rapid climate change. the outcomes can be quite profound. and the dominantly agricultural economy is attuned to its wet and dry seasons. soil. therefore. (Sea level change with particular reference to the coastal zone is not highlighted in this document. Likewise. and animal resources upon which people depend for food and other products (Briefing Document #3 Natural resources). When rapid social change and climate variation coincide. In the shortterm. In the long-term. Lands are frequently flooded by heavy rains. The land area of 148. The interactions between climate and society are schematised in Figure 1. these trends directly affect natural and managed environments (such as the land. introducing irrigation against droughts and embankments against floods. the diagram encapsulates discussion in response to the first main question dealt with in this Document: How does the current climate affect Bangladesh society and economy? The diagram also tries to signify changes through time. This is initiated at the top of the diagram as trends in climate and society. for example. more directly. have serious implications for local economies and human welfare. and storm surges. Review of these linkages enables a response to the fourth question: What alternatives are there for future adjustment to climate and sea level change? Each of these questions will in turn be addressed. and is in turn influenced by these changes: for example. 1 . especially natural hazards. Changes in climate in Bangladesh could. The main relationships between society and climate are identified so that the impacts a changing climate. Around 84 per cent of the country’s 110 million people live in the rural sector. and sea surges associated with cyclones. a significant change in society. may result in both beneficial and detrimental effects on society. modifies it according to its needs and wants. by the embankment and pump drainage of floodplain polders.393km2 is mainly the deltaic plains of the Ganges and Brahmaputra River systems. vegetation.SOCIO-ECONOMIC IMPLICATIONS OF CLIMATE CHANGE FOR BANGLADESH Land and life are closely entwined in Bangladesh. For example. In seeking to exploit resources. These are resource creating activities. The interaction between society and climate is ongoing. As the solid arrows suggest. new chars that become quickly settled and brought under cultivation of crops adapted to the specific soil and hydrological environments are exposed to erosion. occupying these areas puts populations and economic productivity at risk from hazardous events. However. as it forms the focus of Briefing Document #6: The Case of the Coast. The prevailing climate is monsoonal. forests. water. both climate and society vary and change. A review of socio-economic trends enables a response to the second main question: What societal trends influence the vulnerability of Bangladesh to changes in climate and sea level? Consideration of the secondary socio-economic effects allows the third question to be addressed: What are the possible socio-economic impacts of climate change on Bangladesh in future? These secondary effects feed-back (broken lines) to influence the natural and managed environments by. or. over-full river channels. which in turn affect socio-economic systems. as well as on the environment. a significant change in climate may impact on resource uses in an area. erosion. If considered in presentday terms. such as enhanced migration flows. and crops dealt with in Document #3 Natural resources).

This has put severe pressure on the limited land resource leading in some areas to its degradation. FLOODPLAIN RESOURCES Bangladesh farming society has adapted to the seasonal rhythms of climate over millennia. Broken arrows show feed-back to environment and society. a large number of people was being sustained on a limited land area of 148. Difficulties are also posed in certain parts of the country by dry weather. in addition. and climate as hazard. 32. and belief systems of Bangladesh. Another major cause of land degradation in the recent past. has been sharply reduced water-flows to Bangladesh through the Ganges due to withdrawal above and at Farakka in India. The discussion focuses on the traditional rice-growing culture of Bangladesh.INTERACTION OF CLIMATE AND SOCIETY trends in: population health education social structure development BANGLADESH INUNDATION LAND TYPES (normal flood depths) 1% Very lowland >300cm (0. the population of Bangladesh has more than doubled to about 110 million. Figure 2. 4. Climate-driven food supply The traditional human endeavours on the floodplains have always been influenced by the impact of inundation and severe flooding from the major river systems and their numerous tributaries and distributaries. 1988). and the area affected as a proportion of the total flooded area are shown in the divided chart. to drain monsoonal waters from upper riparian countries. 1991d. and consequently on people and their activities. In the recent past. The adaptive interaction that had evolved between society and the resource base helped shape the social organisation. particularly during the December to April period.) HOW DOES CLIMATE CURRENTLY AFFECT BANGLADESH! SOCIETY AND ECONOMY? The question of how climate currently affects Bangladesh society and economy is explored in this section through a discussion of two themes: climate as resource. The type of land. Table 5.1.393km2 without destroying the resource base. Proportion of land in relation to levels of normal flooding is shown in the pie chart in Figure 2 1 .p. Research suggests that even fertility and fecundity relate to seasonality (Maloney.2m ha) trends in: climate and sea level • means • variability • extremes Figure 1. and sustainability. however. Since 1965. The solid arrows show the lines of influence caused by changing trends in society and climate on natural and managed environments. This was made possible through a process of adaptation by a mainly rice and jute growing agricultural society to deltaic lands subject to the SouthWest monsoon (June-October) and having. affecting the Ganges basin areas. (Source: Adapted from Task Force. economic transaction pattern. Interaction of climate and society. vulnerability. vol. Land levels in relation to normal yearly floods. kinship system. About 30 percent of the total land area is normally inundated each year by river floods and impounded heavy rainfall. depth of flooding. and concludes with observations about its resiliency. settlement pattern.

The dry winter is known as the rabi growing period wherein dryland crops like wheat and pulses are grown on land that drains quickly enough and has soils with good enough moisture retaining capacity. The time of summer monsoon is the kharif growing period wherein rice and jute are grown on seasonally flooded or wet land. boro rice is grown in the dry season.What has evolved in response to this normal flooding is an integrated system of agriculture and aquaculture for food supply that is dependent upon the climate-driven water regime (Hossain. each adapted to particular seasonal and hydrological conditions. Three separate growing seasons have emerged over time and four different crops have developed. increasing population and laws of inheritance have been causing subdivision and fragmentation of landholdings. diversification of cultivation not only spread the risks genetically. These characteristics influence the nature of human response (Burton et al. a passive reaction to the forces of nature. the size of individual plots was kept small. such as recent floods or cyclones or to market prices. water elevation. Floods. however. Figure 3. such as the commencement of the monsoonal rains. In the traditional system. This 3 . however. flood. These are depicted in Figure 3. frequency and depth of flooding. 1989. but also spatially. these holdings were maintained through the application of local resources so that there was minimal contact with a national market. and therefore flood levels. speed of onset. In the pre-monsoon and early monsoon or kharif-I period aus rice crop varieties dominate. 1978). rather than a resource. especially rice. This enabled uniform standing levels of water in terms of terrain contours. This was achieved by developing seeds that were adapted to the differing microenvironments within the farm with respect to drought. frequency. 1991. (Briefing Document #3). Farming is not. where land is low-lying and remains flooded throughout the year or where soils are impermeable and there is irrigation. and appropriate technologies. They may be made in anticipation of changes or as a reaction to the impact of major events. 1987) CLIMATIC HAZARDS Because the economy and food supply are so closely linked to climate significant variations in climatic events have profound effects on society. These intricate responses are made on a seasonal and even sub-seasonal basis each year. As a consequence. climate can be thought of as a hazard. family land holdings became fragmented. and each accompanied by a distinct farming technology (Khan. velocity. Capitalist penetration of the rural sector is still at an early stage (Khan. along with jute and broadcast (deepwater) aman. area of impact. These changes evolved out of the need to diversify cultivation so as to reduce the risk of drought or flood within the family farm. influenced by annual rainfall. Floods. because water management was critical in the early stages of wet rice growth. and duration. But. droughts and cyclones have occurred in Bangladesh over the centuries. and a food and resource harvesting strategy that is dependent upon the flooding of large areas during certain months of the year. The frequency with which climate-induced disasters occur in Bangladesh is evident from Table 1. that meshes with the climate and water regime. About 85 per cent of all agricultural land is in rice and jute in the wet season. However. Khan. These hydrological factors largely determine which crops can be grown and which rotations can be practised. and farmers have evolved many methods of water management that seek to control for periods of water deficits (through irrigation works and impoundments) and water excesses (through drainage lines and embankments). seed varieties. droughts and cyclones are examples of climatic hazards. Increased exposure due to growing population and development in hazardous areas has made recent disasters seem larger and more frequent. as well as in the water regime. 127-128). and soil types. 1990. are sufficient to evoke the most subtle of responses from farmers in terms of crop-mix. which has led to the progressive miniaturisation of landholdings. 1989). Fragmentation and subdivision It is important to realise that very small changes in land elevation. In addition. and Jansen. In these circumstances. At the heart of the system is a cropping pattern. The relationship of crop seasons and fish harvest to floods and irrigation. Broadcast and transplanted aman rice are the main crops. Each of such hazardous events may be judged by characteristics such as magnitude. Cropping patterns are. and drainage patterns.

8 29.5 (11 May) 4.5-9 17.5-6 (09 Oct) 2.9 42.4 18.5(O9Dec) 35.A.466 11.60 2.0 % of the Country Cyclone (storm surge in metres) 4.50 4. The drought information is from Mahtab.7 22. 1989 and BBS Agricultural Statistics (1991) 3 .0 28.13 19. droughts and cyclones.10 3.20 22.6 5.5 (29 Apr) Another 18 damaging cyclones affecting Bangladesh did not result in reported deaths.4 36. Flood information is from BWDB (1993).48 19.5-3 (300ct) 6-9 (09 May) 11. 1960-91 Date 1960 1960 1960 1961 1961 1962 1963 1963 1964 1964 1965 1965 1965 1966 1966 1967 1968 1969 1969 1970 1970 1970 1971 1972 1973 1973 1974 1974 1975 1976 1977 1978 1979 1980 1981 1982 1983 1984 1985 1986 1987 1988 1988 1989 1990 1991 1992 (% area of country) Flood (area affected 000 sq.5-6 (l4Dec) 22.27 1.13 3.5-3 (29 Nov) 6-7.4 4.A.5 28.23 2.06 27.14 11.2 41.149 11.4 19.6 57.4 28.4 26.600 2.8 52. making a total of 35 cyclones in 32 years.7 42. Rahman.0 3.06 29.89 - Crop Damage (000s Mt) Deaths Reported 3.1 28. and Huq (1991).5 10.000 138. N.7 37.35 2 (lODec) 321 1257 59 140 1327 2110 575 2 183 28. Cyclone information is from Table 1 in Haider.57 (23 Oct) 6-9 (12 Nov) 24.6 25.3 8.16 7.700 1.89 - (10 Oct) 850 (17 Apr) 75 300 220-400.01 20.1 N.04 4-5 (28 May) 20.4 33.07 8.08 1.8 42.Table 1: Bangladesh floods.97 6.3 20.99 25.5 (25 May) 11.2 43.00 7.1 4.35 19.09 38.18 19.4 9. 16.62 4.3 12.520 196 19.000 5.40 (11 April) 19.2 11.868 1.km) 28.8 33.1 31.5-7.3 89.6 28.069 1.279 873 2.11 2.61 60.44 2-5 (28 Nov) 11.68 3.000 a few 3-4.1 3.46 14.8 37.000 28.42 7.

g. mostly draft animals. but land use and settlement are it. and rabi crops. These are marginal environments for human occupancy and thus highly vulnerable to floods and riverbank erosion. Pabna.16). Barisal.Only six of the last 32 years were disaster free. but sometimes rabi crops (e.. Consequently. Iqbal.868 people and destroyed about 840. Task Force. Paul. Active floodplains lie within and adjoined to the main river channels.1986). People live in vulnerable places along the coast where cyclones strike because a reasonable livelihood is obtained under “normal” conditions and pressures on land in inland districts. Events listed in Table 1 suggest that droughts occurred on average every 2. a cyclone preparedness programme began. the severe cyclone of April 1991 had a surge height in places of over 7 metres and winds of up to 235 km per hour.. Hye. and Ahmad. and causing injury and loss of life (Adnan. 1990. aman. and coastal erosion.000 to 400. This event directly affected about 42 per cent of the cultivated land and some 44 per cent of the population. Mahtab. Persistent drought is. A severe drought typically affects crop production in about 30 per cent area of the country. Rahman. 1991. storm surge and heavy rainfall that result in both surface and riverine flooding. cyclones pose multiple threats from severe wind. 1990). Ahmad. Social customs and poor communications have. sometimes reaching the north-east corner of the country (Figure 4). A system of embankments for cyclone protection was constructed in the 1960s and 1970s. Stable floodplain land provides good crops in normal years. T. This vulnerability can be reduced by irrigation (dry rabi season) and flood control (wet kharif season). Shahjahan. ed. They have been eroded over the years and/or exceeded in severe events. and for many people. Erosional processes along the rivers render landless many of the one million or so people exposed annually to them (Elahi. Ibrahim. Droughts Droughts are common in Bangladesh. 1992). Mirza. but HYV varieties tend to be more drought-prone than indigenous species (Hossain.000 boats. Abnormal flooding (bonya) can than 50 per cent of the land area 5 . Roy. as happened in the very severe &ought of 1978/79 to 1979/80. 1989. The spatial distribution of these events is quite extensive relative to the size of the country. uncertainty of rainfall during pre-kharif and prevalence of dry days and lack of soil moisture during the dry season reduce potential yields of B. These are localised on-going processes.1992. Ahmed and Mafizuddin (eds). 1987). 4. and Noakhali. riverbanks and coasts. A cyclone in 1970 was even more severe with estimated loss of life ranging from 220. and Mohammad. and their paths are relatively unpredictable. it is the relatively high producing districts of Dhaka. Drought normally affects kharif crops (e. Secondary hazards Important secondary consequences of climatic hazards include riverbank. as shown by the selected examples in Figure 4. they also extend inland. In comparison with floods and especially cyclones. wheat and mustard).000. Drought tends to affect western districts more severely. but tend to accelerate and become more severe during times of floods and cyclones (Figure 7). The severe flood of 1988 affected about 61 per cent of the country (Figure 5). Siddique. and floods that impact on lives. storm surges. crops and property. They affect water supplies and plant growth leading to loss of production. Ahmad. Mymensingh.000 rural houses in 16 districts. limited the effectiveness of warnings and use of shelters (Islam.1989). 64-67).. Typically. et al. but kharif crops are vulnerable to untimely or unusually high floods (bonya). Murshid. p. It is the unique disposition of land. It killed an estimated 138. reducing crop yields by an average l0 per cent (Figure 6). and Faridpur that are normally flood-prone (Adnan. 1992). Some 280. but has yet to reach all thanas in the high risk zone. Another 910. 1991d. aus and aman). While embankments can provide some protection from the flooding associated with cyclones. cyclones are very destructive of property and people and very disruptive of economic activities. starvation. food shortages. damaging crops and property.. After the disaster of 1970. ed. aus.000 or so houses were damaged affecting some 12 million people (Talukder and Ahmad. Talukder. Flood-prone land is basically of two kinds: active and stable. 1991. but has the potential to cause famine. droughts are slow to manifest themselves and are relatively more pervasive. More typically. Depending on the intensity of drought. The flooding also accelerates the erosion of soils. 1989. 1989. relatively rare. disrupting economic activities. That occurred in 1876. While cyclones tend to make landfall along a 710km strip of coast. they are much less able to cope with storm surge. Tangail. vol. Solaiman.. Neither are traditional building materials able to withstand the severe winds. In effect. estimated yield reduction of different crops varies from 10 to 70 per cent (Karim. and Karim. char (river and deltaic islands). Cyclones Cyclones bring severe winds. however. in general. Irrigation can help reduce drought effects. however. 1989. along with about 99. and Ahmed. and people in Bangladesh in relation to climate that has resulted in this unusual pattern and frequency of disasters (Figures 4-7). especially when the monsoon is curtailed (Karim.3 years and floods and cyclones every 1. 1974. 1991).8 years.g. Cyclones appear suddenly out of the Bay of Bengal. In badly affected districts like Faridpur.000 cattle were lost. and are now in need of rehabilitation (World Bank. Floods Normal flooding Bangladesh each well adapted to submerge more (barsha) affects about 25 per cent of year.1990. water. Yet this was not the most severe recorded cyclone. For example. Early flash floods affect boro in the north-east. 1989.

3).ct. 5 . The extent of the area affected by severe drought 1979-1980 is given for comparison. Other selected cyclone tracks have been added for comparison (Source: Various sources). Elahi.al.(Source. et al.44. 1990 (Source: Adnan.Figure 4. 1990) Figure 7. 1991. and the location of riverbank erosion in August-September.Aman and rabi and Pre-kharif (February-May). 1991b. Upazilas in Bangladesh affected by riverbank erosion during 1983-87. Areas of Bangladesh affected by severe droughts: Kharif (July-October) reference crop T.. et. Areas of Bangladesh exposed to storm surge and affected by cyclones. Figure 5. The impact of the 1991 cyclone covered of an area similar to that shown as “occasionally” affected on the map. drought areas (JulyOct) Severe drought areas (FobMay) Figure 6.d ar. Drought Aff. Karim. Areas of Bangladesh affected by the severe floods1987 and 1988 (Source: Elahi. 1991a. 102)..a (197980) Sever.

these impacts are dealt with by coping strategies that haveevolved at the level of individual and village. However. and trends that lead to greater or lesser resilience or vulnerability. 1992). et al. and unprotected islands. is the deposition of silt and the creation of new lands for settlement. In contrast. and is primarily responded to at the level of individual and village. farmers in the Gopalganj district of the Faridpur region responded to the very serious floods of 1987 and 1988 by adjusting the acreage and timing of crops so that they were less exposed to the flood risk. External assistance to help cope with large-scale disasters involves the resources of the state. The scale of aid depends on the magnitude of the disaster. 1985. CHARACTERISING SOCIETY Various approaches may be used for characterising society. 1991. as was the case during the drought of 1979/80 or the floods of 1987 and 1988. 1991). the people who are most vulnerable to cyclones occupy sea-side villages. Another reason why the overall effect of hazardous events on national food production is less severe than suggested by the impacts at regional levels is that farmers affected by severe events (such as the flooding in Gopalganj) try 5 . This outcome does not. mechanisms. For example. Resiliency The process of long-term adaptation and short-term adjustment to the land-water regime suggests that the traditional rice-growing society of Bangladesh is quite resilient to adverse change. Counter-balancing loss of land through erosion. 14-21). Capacity to respond When droughts and floods exceed the normally expected threshold. The multiple hazards of cyclones seem to present a different order of problem compared to droughts and floods. At some point. 1991). the Government of Bangladesh has been developing strategies for dealing with large-scale disasters. and become under-employed labourers. loss of land from erosion is irreversible and relocation is the only choice of response.the proportion of landless households due to river bank and char erosion is 33. The magnitude and velocity of storm surge and wind cause such widespread destruction in a very short period of time. along with a large portion of wooden and corrugated iron houses. As economic development proceeds. respectively. 1992). the level of impact will trigger the need for external assistance. • identifying extreme or unusual social events that are the equivalent of extreme natural events or climate anomalies (Kates.. Also. however. the regional impacts of “abnormal” rains and winds on crop production are profound. Only about 25 per cent of riverbank displacees move much further afield (Ferdous and Husain. Salaheen. The ability of individuals or different groups in society to respond to extreme climatic events is by no means uniform for any of these hazardous events. whereas the national average is 28 per cent (Elahi. significant impacts begin to occur. The acreage of boro riceespecially HYV. low lying char lands. 1978). This in turn directly or indirectly affects the livelihoods of millions of people. sub-regions or activities by their potential vulnerability or resilience to climate change and variability. necessarily result in the ready re-distribution of produce to needy areas due to transport problems and/or market rigidities. Rahman. At the national level. Least affected are the reinforced concrete homes of the wealthy (Talukder and Ahmad. however. as well as relief funds and supplies from overseas countries and voluntary organisatons. Obviously. This is because the shortfalls in production in affected regions are compensated by above normal production in unaffected regions (Hossain. Overtime. riverbank erosion is locationally focused. that external assistance is essential. In part. Rogge and Coulter. For example. 1991). 1988. • examining social factors. 37.and pulses almost doubled by 1989. housing is destroyed selectively according to building materials and therefore wealth. livelihoods. erosion-induced landlessness has a more immediate adverse impact than the positive impact of a depositioninduced settlement. Coping strategies have been developed to deal with the environmental variations (like floods and droughts) that have always occurred in the local climatic and water regimes. however. wealth at risk will increase and potential damages to property will rise (Burton. Usually almost all kuchcha houses of the poor are destroyed. This adjustment in response to having experienced severe floods would ensure a harvest that would be at least as good (even better) than a mixed aus+aman harvest in a good year. 1990. This was achieved without outside intervention and in an area little affected by modernisation and the market economy (Sadeque. Montgomery. and 42 per cent of total households. The response in Gopalganj was repeated in many other flood-affected districts (Irrigation Support Project for Asia and the Near East [ISPAN]. and that the death toll from comparable comparative research clearly shows that as economic development proceeds. it is assumed that the capacity of government to respond through disaster preparedness and emergency services and shelters will improve. 1985). This was done by devoting much more land to dry season boro rice and pulses than in previous years. and homes rebuilt after cyclone. 1991a. evidence suggests that the overall effect of hazardous events on total crop production is less severe.50. However. The farmers facilitated this change by installing increased numbers of irrigation pumps to ensure appropriate water conditions in the dry winter for the boro rice. Of use in assessing response to climatic variations and change are: • differentiating groups. Most of the affected households seem to move within 3 km of their original home. while crops may be resown after drought or flood.

1983. Poverty afflicts the majority of the population. This view suggests that socio-economic systems in Bangladesh. society demonstrates both resilience and vulnerability. Sarker. finely tuned to seasonal climate variations. While emergency postdisaster assistance and structural food aid may help alleviate the worst effects of environmental and economic change. and Hossain. such as droughts and floods. these do not in and of themselves empower the poor to achieve longer term improvement in resource accessibility and living standards..Mian. In these difficult circumstances. 1988. 1993). While aquacultural production has markedly increased in recent years. Feldman. in Bangladesh. CLIMATE-SOCIETY INTERACTION The effects of climate and sea level change on society (e. Pernia. Pressure from growing demands for fuelwood and agricultural land has caused forested land to be halved in 20 years (Ahmad. But they have more power with which to take advantage of favourable economic changes and the resources to help shield themselves against adverse environmental impacts. largely the poor who live in highly vulnerable rural and urban places. Sen.1). such as the coast and active floodplains. fertilisers. etc. some geographic locations are more vulnerable to adverse impacts resulting from climatic variations than others. Ahmad and Mirza. there is evidence to suggest that recent on-going disaster relief programmes can stifle this traditional productive behaviour (Hossain. 199la. English. However. In responding to change. 1990. the extent to which Bangladesh will be affected (whether adversely or beneficially) will depend on the future technological. 1990). which may.to make up for a loss in one year by adjustments aimed at securing above normal production in the post-disaster season. Traditionally. For instance. limited natural resources. Thus.1986. and urban infrastructural systems cannot keep pace with demand (Laskar. Urbanisation has been increasing primarily in response to in-migration from rural areas. Bangladesh Rural Advisory Committee [BRAC]. this progress has been undermined by a high population growth rate. Task Force. as has been the case in the past. vol. While other socio-economic groups perhaps benefit the most from aid that the country receives on a regular basis. McCarthy. and frequent natural disasters (Government of the People’s Republic of Bangladesh. including: food-aid. 1984.4). 1992. It is. (Task Force. Maloney. particularly in rural areas. The rural landless and unemployed poor who are forced to relocate as a consequence of change are limited to siting in other risky rural areas or migrating to urban slums. vol. is often disrupted by floods. post-disaster relief. also seek out ways of adapting to future changes in climate. This is not to say that better-off groups in society are not adversely affected by environmental and economic change. The direction of climatic variation and change may well play an important role in meeting that challenge. de Wilde. 1992). the challenge for Bangladesh is to pursue a development strategy which accelerates economic growth and equitably distributes the benefits towards alleviating poverty while at the same time sustaining its limited natural resources for future generations (Ahmad. Hossain. The challenge for Bangladesh is to provide for sustainable economic development in the face of a rapidly increasing population. and socioeconomic trends and how they influence Bangladesh’s ability to adapt in order to strike a new balance between resources and hazards. health. As a consequence of a rapidly increasing labour force in the face of sluggish economic growth. Sustainability Important socio-economic 8 and environmental perturbations have impacted on Bangladesh in the recent past. At the same time. a bountiful floodplain rice-growing system. and Young. Economic growth requires building on the resilient elements of human activity in order to reduce vulnerability. demographic. effectively one-third or more of the country’s available labour time is unemployed (Ahmad. 199ld. droughts. incomes. 1992. and migration) arise from how interactions of climate and society affect the natural and managed environments. therefore. 1981). such as escalating population and rural landlessness (Ahmed. project aid for irrigation and flood protection. And. it is they who have fewest resources with which to respond to adversity. over much of the recent past. climate variations have provided opportunities (resources) and imposed costs (hazards). per capita arable land has shrunk and the proportion of rural households that are functionally landless has increased. . In the future. Vulnerability Another perspective on the socio-economic scene of Bangladesh would suggest that the country is vulnerable to climatic variations and change. or socio-economic change. whether induced by climatic variations. are based upon traditions that are resilient to climatic variations. As already noted. food-for-work. the country has been buffered from the worst effects of climate-induced disasters by liberal foreign aid.g. a per capita GNP that is among the lowest in the world. depending on how society adapted to the environmental behaviour and the nature and severity of particular variations. 1993a). Jansen. and support for prices. They have few resources with which to buffer themselves against adversity. 1990). it is the marginalised disaster-hit poor who are most reliant upon it for survival in the wake of a disaster. and cyclones.

1991. SOCIETY IN TRANSITION When traditional farming societies are in transition to a modern state. therefore. migration. droughts. health and education. this matter is an important one to investigate. and cyclones) than either traditional or industrial societies. is this process likely to occur in the near future as transition proceeds? Since about 84 per cent of the total population is in the rural sector. As already noted. White. environmental interventions. Thus. Hakim. that climate and sea-level change would have a more severe impact on a society in transition than one that is in a traditional or a developed state.. many aspects of society are affected.. and the food-gap has gradually narrowed due to a decreasing rate of population growth (Hossain. nutrition intakes deteriorate and ruralurban migration escalates.’ This enabled the intensification of land use through multiple annual cropping of rice and increased production of wheat in the dry season. water.WHAT SOCIETAL TRENDS MAY INFLUENCE THE VULNERABILITY OF BANGLADESH TO CHANGES IN CLIMATE AND SEA LEVEL? The scenario for climate change outlined in Document #1. 1991. a significant portion of the rapidly growing population becomes marginalised and vulnerable to social and environmental stresses. With respect to climate change. The chosen factors are: development. 1989). Comparative research on how societies in different stages of economic development cope with extreme natural events has been carried out in many developed and developing countries (Burton. For them. population. A major conclusion is that societies that are in transition from traditional to modern or industrial stages are more vulnerable to natural hazards (floods. for it may help indicate how well Bangladesh may cope should global warming significantly influence the farming sector. Land and wealth Nearly three-fifths (61 per cent) of the total land area of Bangladesh is under cultivation—primarily with rice which occupies four-fifths of the area and provides three-quarters of agricultural produce. This summary of socio-economic change by and large applies in Bangladesh. Some 84 per cent of the population is wholly dependent upon rural landholdings as landlords. it is suggested that.8°C warming of Bangladesh could occur by the year 2050. selected socio-economic factors are used as indicators for assessing the vulnerability of Bangladesh to changes in climate and sea level. and chemical fertilizers in the 1960s and 1970s— the ‘green revolution. higher yielding varieties (HYV) of rice. that affects the resource base of soil. sea level could rise by 30 cm in that period. While irrigation and flood control projects allowed some expansion of cropped land since the 1950s. but subdivision of family land escalates and uneconomic land holdings increase. any factor. 1989. 1974). owner-operators. such as climate change. In Document #2 on Sea-level rise. and as landless labourers. wheat. 1983. in response to climate warming. Access to credit improves and new technologies result in improved production. ed. To what extent does this thesis apply to Bangladesh? Has the development process significantly separated people from their traditional means of production and as a consequence made them more vulnerable to natural hazards and social change than hitherto? If not. a 1. alternatives fail to keep pace with the expanding population. et al. or forest will have important socio-economic consequences. death rates fall in response to modern medicine much faster than birth rates because of the reluctance of people to adopt birth control due to social and economic reasons. The significant increase in crop production that did occur over the last 30 years was due to the introduction of small-scale mechanised irrigation technologies. 9 . ed. Although many of the landless move into new forms of employment. 1987.. food grain production has grown at a steady rate since the mid-1960s. This is because the mechanisms of traditional societies for coping with disasters are disrupted by the development process before being adequately replaced by mechanisms used in developed countries. it is important to know how socioeconomic changes in traditional farming systems influence coping mechanisms. Rashid. Population quickly expands. Large-scale underemployment occurs and family incomes for some groups fall. For example. 1991. suggests that. but indebtedness strikes many small land owners. Thus. but this is typically at a rate that is insufficient to absorb surplus rural labour. Consequently. H. Hewitt. sharecroppers. 1978. It is frequently asserted in the scientific literature that a traditional farming economy is more resilient to environ- mental variations than a society in transition to a modern economy.5 to 1. Hossain. infrastructure. 1989). human activity in Bangladesh revolves around climatic resources and hazards. industry. One might surmise. although the explanations for it may vary (Chowdhury. tenants. for the “business as usual” case. the limits of this are likely to be reached in the next 10-15 years. both positively and negatively. Jansen. and Khan. and Rashid. World Bank.. and potato. What societal trends may influence the nation’s resiliency or vulnerability to these changes? Is Bangladesh more or less vulnerable as a consequence of being in a state of socio-economic transition? In this section. Migration to cities flows at a pace beyond the capacity of urban infrastructural systems to cope adequately. in the period of transition. Industrial and service sectors expand.

1984.5-1. average farm size declined from 1. 1989). it is still very much in a state of transition (Khan. The net cultivable area per capita will have declined from around 0. a point to be discussed later in the document (Figure 8). the GNP (Gross National Product) of Bangladesh has grown at an average annual rate of around 3. With unemployment in rural Bangladesh at 35 per cent or more (in terms of available labour time) and employment opportunities on the land and in other rural sectors limited. mainly poor. 1989. population continued to grow at an average 2. This means that while agriculture has experienced many important changes in the last 30 years. 1. 1993b. Task Force. Many of the medium farmers are also poor. capitalist transformation of agriculture has been limited. in nonagriculture) Rural informal (households. and rural and urban informal groups are poor and disadvantaged. 1991. in non-agriculture) 3.49 acres of land) Medium farmers.5-5. 8.45 hectares to 0. Other major reasons are the pressure on natural resources by a rapidly growing population and the subdivision of land holdings in successive generations. The proportion of rural households that are functionally landless rose from about 35 per cent (involving around 18 million people) in 1961 to 68.. particularly river bank erosion.1-10 acres) Very large farmers (> 10 acres) Rural formal (households.8 percent. they are particularly vulnerable to the vagaries of the economic and physical environment (Ahmad. Maloney. in non-agriculture) Urban formal (households. Economic growth Since liberation. 1993c. 9. also play a part. ahead of Laos. 1991d) . in nonagriculture) Urban informal (households. 1981). However. Chowdhury. An important reason for the increasing number of families that are becoming landless and/or that are falling into poorer socio-economic categories is the increasing control by the rich of land. and has since increased further. 4.5-5. mainly rich.0 acres) Large farmers (5.03 percent per year. Possessing few resources or assets. and Nepal. In addition.4.0 acres) Medium farmers. Repeated natural Figure 8: Trends in the distribution of the percentage of income to households in each decile for the years 1974. 1986 and 1989 (Source: Bangladesh Bureau of Statistics. vol. under medium population growth. 5.8 percent (65 million people) in 1983-84. Without denying the obvious benefits that have accrued to Bangladesh and the rural sector from the ‘green revolution’ it is often argued that these adverse trends area consequence of the highly skewed land distribution. 190). In the same period.6 hectare by 2011. The landless. 1991d. 1989. is expected to drop to 0. 10 . Landless agricultural labourers Small farmers (0. This means that GNP per capita only grew at just over one per cent during the period. These changes could in turn significantly increase the proportion of people made vulnerable to climatic variations and extremes. 6. Bhutan. disasters. 1988. mainly tenant (1. mainly rich. Together they account around 50 per cent of the total population. Because climate is the single most important factor in determining agricultural performance.12 hectare in 1975 to 0. the continuation of these trends into the future combined with a more fulsome penetration of capitalism into agriculture could lead to quite profound socioeconomic changes. small farmers. mainly owners (1. Land is still acquired more often by people for the more traditional reasons of subsistence. mainly poor. 10. However. et al.Bangladesh households have been divided into 10 socioeconomic groups (Ministry of Environment and Forests. In 1990.8 hectare and. 2. the GNP per capita of Bangladesh was fourth to last in Asia. sharp fluctuations in GNP or GDP (Gross Domestic Product) are not uncommon. prestige and power. much of the rural population is subsisting below the absolute poverty level. 34).045 hectare by 2011 (World Bank. 7. Sen.

a static picture at a particular point in time. This trend may well continue for some time to come (Figure 8). and dependence on foreign aid. the country had actually received US$24. however. The pressure this puts on overall employment opportunities is increasing (Ahmad and Mirza. for 1990. and this translates into about 12 million workers (Ahmad. thereby reducing the country’s capacity to import unless exports can be increased (Economic Relations Division. 11 . It is the services sector that has grown rapidly and it now accounts for about 47 per cent of GDP. and west of the country. would help provide a basis for considering a future undergoing climate change. 1992. The bottom 20 percent of 468 Upazilas are shown on the map (Source: Task Force.The changing pattern of the composition of the GDP over the past decade appears to reflect a society in transition. 1. which was being joined by around 1 million new entrants each year..4 per cent of the national income and the bottom 20 per cent 7. People in these economically depressed thanas may be more vulnerable to the adverse effects of climate change than people elsewhere. productivity is relatively low in most sectors. In 1991. and only 1. which may increase further in the coming years.07 billion against a commitment of US$30. while the bottom 2Oper cent received only 6. as a large portion of the labour force is malnourished and poorly sheltered. As attitudes towards women in society are changing.2percentof the national income. a more diversified economy is likely to be less subject to the vagaries of climate. about 50 per cent of the GDP. which together with low domestic savings. 2728). With such a large pool of unemployed and underemployed workers. about one-third of the total labour time in the country was unemployed. 1993). while economic development has extended and diversified employment opportunities. In addition. especially in rural areas. increasing numbers of women are entering the workforce. Feb. Research on regional disparities in economic growth and development over time.2 per cent (Bangladesh Bureau of Statistics. The geographical distribution of economic growth and employment is also uneven. The pattern in Figure 9 is. suggests that the task ahead in moving the economy forward is formidable (Ahmad and Mirza. manufacturing has made little headway and accounts for only about 9 per cent of the GDP. About 49 percent of the aid disbursed has been in grants. wages are very low. shows the location of the most economically depressed of the 487 thanas in Bangladesh (administrative areas known as upazila between 1984 and 1991).9 to 11. 20. for which prospects are no longer that bright. while energy and construction account for about 8 per cent. 1992. This has eroded the economic base for future growth. Bangladesh had a potential labour force of around 36.99 billion in the pipeline. In general.06 per cent to the bottom 5 per cent. However. In the same year the top 20 per cent of households acquired 47. Economically depressed Upazilas in Bangladesh.06 billion. However. particularly women. but it is not yet possible to say how. especially for women. uncertain foreign remittances. Another factor typical of a country that is undergoing economic development and transition is the very uneven distribution of wealth and income. A more useful portrayal would show chronic ‘depression’ over a reasonable period of time. vol. it has not kept pace with population growth. 1991c. The bottom 10 per cent of thanas were concentrated in regions to the north. 1990. Aid and relief Foreign aid has always been an important feature in Bangladesh economic management. A significant proportion of the GDP has been emanating from sectors other than agriculture. which currently employs 57 per cent of the labour force (about 74 percent if those. The debt servicing ratio was 17.7 per cent. Investment as a proportion of GDP declined during the 1980s from 15. Figure 9. 28-29).5 per cent of the national income went to the top 5 per cent of households. including the influence of environmental constraints. 1991a. Up to July1992. north-west.7 percent in 199 1-92.6 billion. 1993a). However. The disparities have in-creased since 1973/74 when the top 20 per cent of households received 44. 37). 32).64 per cent. Thus. engaged in expenditure saving activities in agriculture are also taken into account) and accounts for about 37 per cent of the GDP only.5 million. The outstanding debt is currently US$11. as of July 1992 there was a substantial US$5. This is clear from Figure 9 which. As of 1988/89. A changing climate may also alter and/or exacerbate the pattern of uneven growth in Figure 9.

projects and programmes were often undertaken at donor insistence. this means enhancing traditional practices through the adoption of flood control. be it from aid or domestic resources. Also. aid is the main source of public investment budget. aid has a strong grip on the economy of Bangladesh. and the need to develop its resources to meet the demands of a rapidly increasing population. Together. evolving technologies and economical and social structure may alter existing systems and make many sectors of. Given the persistent low national income and savings. even though certain benefits may accrue from climate change. while river-sourced irrigation is primarily in the south and centre. and erosion) worsen in future. and irrigation technologies. demographic. the balance is aid-financed to a significant extent. unless the aid is carefully targeted (Hossain. Aid has. and protect land uses and populations at risk. society vulnerable or more vulnerable to significant variations in climate. vol.high poverty syndrome. 79). economic and social trends than on the rates of climate and sea-level change. they aim to help to increase crop production. the country may become increasingly vulnerable should climate extremes (manifested in floods. For better results in the future. discounting the proposed Flood Action Plan. Most groundwater irrigation and potential irrigation is in the west and north of the country. after foreign remittances have been taken into account. Moreover. however. and groups in. In fact. ensuring their efficient utilization. the outstanding debt burden on a per capita basis of US$99. Hence. Bangladesh’s vulnerability may depend more on the direction of technological. aid utilisation has been rather poor due to bad planning. Environmental interventions notwithstanding. about one-third of flood vulnerable land.620 km2. 1991d. VULNERABLE IN TRANSITION Bangladesh is a developing country in transition from being a traditional farming society. which had little relevance to the country and led to large-scale wastages. It accounted for 77 per cent in 199 1i92. and in helping the government to develop ongoing emergency preparedness programmes. although quite low on a per capita basis. are under construction or consideration aimed at protecting a 12 . In the long term. In the drive for modernisation. the level of vulnerability may well dramatically increase. only about 40 per cent of the imports is paid for out of the country’s export earnings. Irrigation Irrigation expanded over the two decades to 1990 tocover33 per cent of the cultivable area of around 9 million hectares (Task Force. the exposure of Bangladesh to disasters.5 is quite high for a sluggishly growing economy like Bangladesh’s. managerial deficiency and corruption. There are over 190 functioning projects protecting 26. It seems likely that the high level of international aid to date has cushioned Bangladesh to an extent against economic and disasterrelated vulnerability. cyclones.4. Also. however. droughts. targeting and management. aid has failed to help move the economy forward in any significant way so that the country remains trapped in a low growth . having been even higher in the 1980s. Donor induced and supported structural adjustment policies and programmes have further increased the donor influence in the economic management of the country. Another 114 projects. particularly if coincident with a changing climate that brings more frequent and intense natural events. For one thing. adequate emphasis should be placed on better planning. But. a substantial portion of government revenue receipts come from duties and taxes on aid-financed imports. Flood control There has been a steady expansion of flood control and/or drainage projects since the 1960s. One response should be a policy of maximum mobilisation of domestic resources supplemented by mobilising foreign aid as required and putting them to uses suited to the changing circumstances. played an important role in relieving losses following natural disasters. It has. drainage. On the other hand. But when economic transformation in the future leads to a significant increase in the numbers of farmers and labourers moving off the land. aid will be required by Bangladesh for a long time to come.On a per capita basis. Bangladesh’s aid receipt is one of the lowest at US$15. ENVIRONMENTAL INTERVENTIONS Part of the modernising process should be to increase the scale and pace of environmental interventions. been suggested that aid has the potential to reduce resilience and the incentive to innovate and adapt. 1990). such as improved crop production. In a land that experiences both water excesses and deficits.

Dhaka town protection. opinions can be distilled into two opposing approaches for dealing with abnormal flooding: • Bangladesh cannot be left to suffer disastrous floods indefinitely. The long-term goals are: productivity (economic development). other project areas have experienced frequent flooding. S. Many might well argue that the recent history of Bangladesh will sorely test the ideals of FAP (Chowdhury. Despite benefits from the FCD/I projects. floodplain management.. 1989.. Hunting Technical Services Limited. Larger cultivating households were better off than smaller households. compartmentalization. showed no evidence of having reduced the environmental variability faced by farmers (Hunting Technical Services Limited. 363-410). a 5 year FAP was initiated with the support of many international donors and the World Bank as executing agency. 1989). 1991c.000 km of coastal and riverine embankments and nearly 3. Chalan Beel Polder D. 1991. sustainability (continued growth over time despite flooding). some yearly. One project. Rahman. Naqi. Khondker. The first approach has become part of long-term government policy (Task Force. 1989. flood modelling. Worse off were poor labourers. 173-187). Generally. or greater than design standard levels of flooding. flood forecasting and early warning. bank protection. 24). and institutional development. river survey. 1989. fisheries. flood-proofing. vol. secondary town protection. the incidence of damaging floods does not appear to have been much different between project and non-project (study control) areas.400km of drainage and sluices (Safiullah. and therefore income. and Japan. 1991. stability (insulation of incomes against minor disturbances). 1989.3. But in the large floods of 1987 and 1988. geographic information systems. Rashid. as the second approach has merit. These component studies of FAP are estimated to cost around $US 150 million. United Nations Development Programme (UNDP). and maintenance.. the FAP seeks to resolve the conflicting requirements of both approaches by conducting 26 studies over the 5 year period. A better approach is to build on the ability of Bangladeshis to cope with. 1992. 199 lb. protection of lives and property. 1991). et al. and embankments would create as many problems as they solve. Aguero. FCD/I Projects A recent study of six FCD/I (flood control and drainage/ irrigation) projects showed that some have provided clear positive socio-economic impacts while others have resulted in negligible impacts or new problems (Hunting Technical Services Limited. Mirza. Across all projects. 13 . Projects to date have resulted in nearly 10. 1992. flood response. so as to reduce the risk of abnormal floods and thereby enhance economic activity. The spirit of FAP is therefore to examine the advantages and disadvantages of a range of alternatives for dealing with the abnormal flood problem and to combine the best options for various locations across the country. fishermen. and they were better off than noncultivating households. while some have provided protection from flooding to property and infrastructure. Projects may also adversely affect the open water floodplain fish catch. And. flooding. M-15). and equity (gains evenly distributed over the population) (James and Pitman. increasing agricultural production. and an adequate infrastructure provides an important ingredient for its success. and poor embankment construction and lack of maintenance is cause for concern (Adnan. M-1). Hunting Technical Services Limited. However.further one-quarter of vulnerable land. resettlement. household losses were greater inside four of the project areas than in the study control areas. the distribution of income benefits from increased economic activity varied. they have had benefits in terms of employment on construction. due to embankment failure. 1992. Thompson. 1991b. and Zahurul. 1991b. operation. 1991). et al. As ISPAN (1992) explains. and Ahmed. Both are emerging features of Bangladeshi society. cuts. Safiullah. and recover from. Expert opinions varied as to the viability of such a massive project which preliminary reports suggested could cost up to $US 5 billion. • It is technically and economically infeasible to prevent abnormal flooding. 1990-1995 (ISPAN. Asian Development Bank. The first six FAP studies are regional assessments. 1992. 1992. they have been responsible for increased conflicts of interest between various groups both inside and outside of the project areas (Adnan. M27-35) Flood Action Plan (FAP) The disastrous floods of 1987 and 1988 signalled renewed international interest in controlling the floods being caused by the major rivers of Bangladesh (World Bank. the United States. In 1989. Parker. 1992. providing emergency refuges from rising waters. They have the major support of the World Bank. environmental impact. INDUSTRY AND INFRASTRUCTURE Industrialisation is an essential feature of a modernising society. 1991. with increased agricultural production comes the need for increased inputs of irrigation (from low to highland elevations) and of fertiliser and pest control. 1991b. All major rivers need to be progressively contained. 2). The remainder include: cyclone protection. 1991b. M-37. However. As resource creating projects. European Community. and boatmen. and Zaharul. while crop damage was less in three of the projects compared with study control areas (Hunting Technical Services Limited. 1990)). flood preparedness. agricultural study.

522). sugarcane. In the 1980s.Figure 10. 1991. but with only limited results. The general location of large-scale. Industry The industrial sector in Bangladesh is relatively small. together with flooding of around one-quarter of the land area during the monsoon season. Nevertheless. and have the potential to contribute much more to both. 1991a). 39-41). chemicals. The general location of transport. H. while at the same time making the most of the economic facilities extended to underdeveloped regions (Mondal. and diesel plants (Figure 10). although in the metropolitan areas it is often on elevated land or land that is protected by embankments. tea.74 per cent of the GDP in 1989-90. 377 and 392). Exposure to the latter is greater in the coastal zone wherein lie the main industrial port cities of Chiuagong and Khulna (Figure 10). these areas may also be at risk from sea level changes. makes developing and maintaining infrastructural linkages across the country difficult. and energy reticulation are essential infrastructural elements for economic growth and development (Figure 11). However. and energy infrastructure in Bangladesh (Source: Adapted H. the industrial sector accounted for 8. communication. Figure ll. and hides. Much of the industry is located on floodplains. Most industrial units tended to locate in the neighbourhood of the three metropolitan areas in order to reap the benefits of developed infrastructure. most of which are not included in the statistics of the Bangladesh Bureau of Statistics. such as steel. but growth in output has been atnearly6per cent per year during the past decade. 1989.. whether concentrated or dispersed. According to the Bangladesh Bureau of Statistics (1991a. and ready markets. Together with water supply. 1991. such as jute. cotton. communication. Bangladesh also has some heavy industries. As described in detail in Briefing Document #6: The Case of the Coast. Infrastructure Transport. Some 3 million people were employed in this sector in 1986 out of a total labour force of 31 million (Bangladesh Bureau of Statistics. Industries are largely based on agricultural commodities. Periodic cyclones and severe floods result 13 . fibre. and food industries in Bangladesh (Source: From maps in Rashid. much of the nation’s industry is susceptible to severe flooding and/or cyclones. Government used various fiscal and monetary incentives to encourage industries to locate in less developed areas of the country (Figure 9). The deltaic system of tributaries and distributaries. industrial agglomeration.. pharmaceuticals. of which 58 per cent was due to large-scale industries and 42 per cent to smallscale industries. 398 and 403). but significantly contribute to national income and employment. there is a large number of rural (generally cottage type) industries dispersed throughout the country. they form the life-lines of a nation. However. machine tools.

(Source: from data in United Nations. declined significantly in the 1980s as road transport improved. 1.00 in 1981. and 40 per cent of the total population (and therefore of females) are already in the child-bearing group of 15 to 44 years olds. 1991a. one of the world’s highest. but perhaps slowly in the near future in view of the present age-structure of the population and the continued socio-cultural resistance. Low and high projections suggest that by 2025 AD the population will be between 213 million and 291 million. vol.78 in 1961 to 5. Figure 12. Growth in total population from 1950 to 1990. In some areas being isolated for days. Population growth factors The main factor for continued high population growth in Bangladesh can be seen in the subdivided bars in the graph in Figure 12. medium and high variants of fertility). adjusted compound growth rate). Historical growth in total and urban population in 30 year periods. 14 .to marry and have children. 1976. 101. 120). Steamers and launches. the current population growth rate of 2. An extrapolation of the medium projection gives a total population of 305 million in 2050 AD— the end point for the climate change scenarios (Figure 13).03 per cent is less than that found in 1981 when it was 2. Bangladesh reached about 110 million (adjusted figure. which rapidly expanded in the 1950s. is therefore 1. even navigation is hampered during the monsoon by river bank erosion and during the dry season by siltation. Available estimates suggest that the population will increase to 136-140 million by 2000 AD. Population Census. 1989. In 1991. 1991) in 1991 living in a net land area of 107. The average density of population. The proportion of urban population for the medium variant is included. The total fertility rate fell from 6. UN projections to 2025 and extrapolations to 2050 for low. forcing higher unemployment and greater reliance on marginal economic pursuits that are susceptible to variations in climate and sea level. One can assume that it will continue to fall as education and living standards improve. the disruptions that result are felt well beyond the immediately affected areas.019 persons per square kilometre. 1992. with a medium projection of 235 million (United Nations. These trends in population growth would imply aggravated vulnerability as increasing numbers of people place additional strains on limited resources.893km2. 290-291). and then to 4. Fortunately. When important industrial nodes and their connecting lines of communication and supply are impacted by disasters.33 in 1991 (Bangladesh Bureau of Statistics. Task Force. POPULATION AND SETFLEMENT From a total population of 29 million people at the turn of the century. 1991a). poised Figure 13. in addition to the above reasons. 1901 to 1991 (Source: adapted from Faaland and Parkinson. While the waterways account for more than 50 per cent of interdistrict movement.35 per cent (Bangladesh Bureau of Statistics. on this basis. 1989. The future certainty is that population will continue to grow quickly in the foreseeable future.290-91). nearly half the population (47 per cent) were children under 15 years of age.

Rural settlement The population of Bangladesh is overwhelmingly rural. Because of flooding in the rainy season. with homesteads built on plinths raised only above normal seasonal flood levels. Thus. in only seven of the 64 districts making up Bangladesh does the population density fall below 500/km2. The cities and towns of Bangladesh and their growth in population.) In a band extending south-east from Dhaka to Chittagong. 15 . not above experienced storm surge levels. The remainder— in areas of Medium Highland and Highland land types. All groups could become more vulnerable with climate and sea level change. It is certain that. 1992).000 people per km2. where it averages 3. forming about 84 per cent of the whole (Figure 13). The distribution of population density in Bangladesh districts in 1991. The latter does not seem to reflect a misplaced sense of security behind coastal embankments.000/km2.the settlement pattern is either semi-nucleated or scattered. The concentration in these areas probably reflects more stable agricultural production and less proneness to flood and drought than in many other areas of the country. There seems little prospect that this basic rural settlement pattern will alter over the next 40 years. 1974 and 1991 (Source: from data in Bangladesh Bureau of Statistics. (These three districts also have large urban populations. jute. In low-lying basins. the spread of settlements onto relatively lower land in flood-protected areas (as in the DhakaNarayanganj-Demra project area) where they would be exposed to risk of catastrophic flooding if embankments are breached. floodplains. This will increase the absolute number of people at risk from climatic variations and extremes. Three things that may change are: a) b) the continued spread of population onto flood. since the practice pre-dates modem embankments. The most dense districts are from Dhaka south-east to Chittagong (Source: Bangladesh Bureau of Statistics. 1993). over the next 40 to 60 years. especially in the more fertile areas where alluvial soils support such crops as rice. Rural land is densely settled. the population averages over 1. settlements in low basins. where it is over 1500/km2. c) Figure 14. The map of 1991 population densities in Figure 14 shows that the densest population areas centre on Dhaka district. However. Also worth noting is the rather surprising prevalence of dispersed settlement in estuarine char areas. linear settlements are the norm. Figure 15. 1992). fruit and vegetables. About half of rural settlement in Bangladesh is of this type. the expanding urban population will spread onto floodplain agricultural land. and the nearby districts of Narayanganj and Narsingdi. and the delta are sited on natural or artificially raised land (ridges or mounds). the density of rural settlement in Bangladesh will markedly increase.and cyclone-prone char land.homestead mounds may be 3-5 metres high (Sultana.

The four metropolitan areas held 9. The annual average change in the level of urbanization between 1950 and 1970 was 3 per cent. contained 17. Growth in these from 1974-91 is shown clearly in Figure 15. according to a UN medium projection (United Nations. regardless of actual impacts of climate change and sea level rise. the vulnerability of people from social and environmental stresses increases. and the few major centres will continue to dominate urban growth. such as in the industrial and commercial cities of Chittagong (1. 1989. and Khulna the last two falling in the high risk area for cyclones. increasing extreme events and sea-level rise could also accelerate rural to urban migration. The urban population is projected to reach 84 million by 2025. Chittagong.about l6 per cent of the 110 million total (Bangladesh Bureau of Statistics. 194). its towns and cities have been few in number. It is unclear how this strong urban trend in Bangladesh will affect vulnerability to climatic change and variability. such as sewerage and water.64 million people. Under these circumstances. Major expansion can be expected in Dhaka. The urban population has escalated during this period as rural poverty combined with economic development in and around urban areas encouraged people to move into towns and cities in search of work. such as providing for emergency services and higher levels of floodproofing of services and physical infrastructure.9 per cent (Laskar. 1989). then the exposure of infrastructures associated with settlements will be greatly enhanced. A ten-fold increase of people in Dhaka in 30 years has dramatically stressed services. especially on floodplains and along the coast.6 million people . 1983. 1992).Urban development After Bhutan and Nepal. However.5 million people (5 per cent of total). 3. just over one-third of the total population. settlement and vulnerability For Bangladesh as a whole. but many newer towns serve as local administrative centres. Unless a strong interventionist policy dictates otherwise. an increase of 59 per cent in 10 years (Figure 15).53 million people (about 9 per cent of total national population). it is likely that Bangladesh will follow other developing countries. This would increase capital and operating costs.000). This would not only assist food production. at about 5 per cent per annum on average. as through direct heat stress on health. More specifically: a) greater frequency of serious floods could aggravate urban planning problems. 1992). with a population of 51 million. Population. about 37 per cent of the total metropolitan population (Bangladesh Bureau of Statistics. An alternative possibility to this increased urban concentration is to facilitate growth centres or market towns in the countryside through establishing food and other processing industries. higher sea-levels would aggravate existing urban drainage problems in the port cities of Chittagong and Khulna. it is clear that densities in rural and urban areas will increase. Only 30 years ago. The main towns and cities developed in response to trade and commerce. If these extremes are exacerbated by climate change and sea level rise. Dhaka municipal area is the main centre with around 3. This implies a continuation of the high urban growth rate. 17 . Bangladesh is the least urbanized nation in Asia. 1993). and a total rural population increase of about 60 per cent over the same period. and between 1970 and 1990. This would increase capital costs and probably health problems. but also help create employment opportunities for villagers (Asaduzzaman. there were only 78 towns containing 2.000 people. By 1991. Historically.57 million) and Khulna (601. A significant number of people in the main cities are unskilled labourers from the countryside living in poverty in squatter settlements. plus places with more than 5. 95 municipalities. Similar problems are experienced elsewhere. urban water supplies or urban flood problems. one might speculate that the effects of climate change may be increasingly manifested in rather different ways. b) c) The shift of large numbers of people into the cities is in part due to a society in transition and the breakdown of traditional activities and ways of coping in rural areas as alternatives are sought in the cities. exposing settlements to the full range of climatic extremes. Pemia.

Generally. (e. for reasons noted earlier.. and Rashid. less developed areas. Rural cycling The main reason for rural-rural migration has been overpopulation in relation to the capacity of the rural economy to absorb new entrants into the labour force. 1993. and because the areas were also less prone to flooding and river bank erosion (Sultana. an increasing number of migrants seem to have been attracted to larger rural towns (Sultana. 1993). Another source of seasonal labour absorption is crop production on chars in the lower delta. Core to periphery Redistribution of people in Bangladesh has been due mainly to population pressure per unit area on the fertile alluvial plains and to labour saving agricultural innovations (Sultana. and Khulna (Figure 16). the more densely populated mid-eastern districts are the main providers of migrants. 1993. where itinerant labourers move south from Faridpur. 1985. Four main types of movement are apparent in Bangladesh: core to periphery. and Noakhali. A recent Bangladesh Institute of Development Studies (BIDS) survey of 62 villages revealed that about 1. Chittagong and Khulna (Figure 16). urban magnet. highly developed south-east for about 10 units of land in these less crowded. This has the tendency to raise wages in both recipient and provisioning districts (Rahman. This has likely been the result of improved road communications. Kosinski and Elahi. in light of the above. Barisal. and Noakhali. rural cycling. 1991). In Khulna city. Barisal and Faridpur) that experience severe flooding and riverbank erosion. .g. It is also likely to be the result of increased agricultural Figure 16. Jessore. around 25 per cent of them to urban areas.43). 1976. About 2 per cent of rural households migrate each year. The rationale for in-settlement in the north and west is the ability to exchange one unit of land in the over-crowded. rural to urban. also provide migrants to other districts. Many of the factors contributing to the rural cycling of migrants also apply to the movement of rural people into towns and cities. H.MIGRATION AND EMPLOYMENT The permanent movement of people occurs for various reasons. Urban magnet Urban in-migration has become an especially marked trend in the last 30 years and is growing at around 2 million people each year. Comilla.. However. et al. a major reason for this type of back-and-forth movement is a growing shortage of labour in villages that have adopted new irrigation technologies for increasing crop production. 1991). During the past decade. It is also suggested that people have been attracted to these areas since the 1970s by opportunities provided through new irrigated farming of rice and wheat based on deep tube wells and new HYV varieties. Rahman. 43). This is due mainly to population pressure. An increasingly reported reason for rural migration is the growing number of people moving into a state of landlessness. and international movements. This means that there is large scale rural underemployment. The receiving or in-migration districts are mainly those with densities below the national average to the north and south west (or periphery). less densely populated districts.5 per cent of rural households permanently out migrated to other rural areas between 1987 and 1989.11 and 31 per cent respectively (Elahi. Major recipients of in-migration have been the largest cities of Dhaka. Dinajpur and Rangpur and Kushtia. 1991. and Faridpur districts (Figure 16). investment of repatriated foreign worker funds. Many have come as a consequence of floods and riverbank erosion. especially Rajshahi. three-quarters of the squatter population is from Barisal (45 per cent) and Faridpur (30 per cent) where there has been recent flooding and riverbank erosion. It also found that nearly 60 per cent of movers circulated seasonally within the rural sector. as in Comilla. and deliberate government policy to develop rural growth centres. and its corollary of land subdivision. which results in an unemployed labour force of an estimated 35 per cent or more. and that they rely upon an influx of migrant labour from other districts. There is also northwards and eastwards permanent and seasonal labour movement into Sylhet. 18 especially from Mymensingh. Main migration patters in Bangladesh: rural to rural. Paradoxically. Mymensingh. and seasonal cycling (Source: Adapted from Ahmad. Respondents in over three-quarters of the technology-adopting villages reported that labour shortages are experienced in the peak season. 1991). These districts also supply significant numbers to the squatter settlements in Dhaka.

For example. The extension of the Thana Health Complexes (which increased from 275 in 1980 to 352 in 1990). trained personnel. It is difficult to predict whether migration rates will increase or decrease. seasonal labourers living in the fields are exposed to sudden cyclones and storm surges. The provision of doctors in 1981 was one per 9. respiratory and diarrhoeal infections accounted for 42 per cent of morbidity (disease) and 20 per cent of mortality (death). There seems little doubt that significant movements of people will continue in Bangladesh. as they did recently in the Middle East. rapid return migration can have profound consequences. Only 18 . Many are forced to live in conditions that place them at risk from social and environmental threats. it was 3. These statistics do. especially during the monsoon. However. a recent survey showed 88 per cent had inadequate facilities. Analyses are needed to verify these trends.690 people and of nurses was one per 19. When conditions in the host nation falter. and pneumonia. The provision of medical care is made difficult. Continuing natural calamities will exacerbate this trend.670 respectively (ADB. Life expectancy improved from 45 to 50 years between 1965 and 1985 and infant mortality from 153 to 121 per 1. 1989). In the mid-1980s.000 currently live). 1989) shows that the health status in Bangladesh is low. But it does seem reasonable to assume that currently observed migration rates will continue well into the next century. waterborne diseases. Where they are household heads. Hospital bed provision improved from one per 3. in India. In 1990. and equipment. the number of marginal farm units will increase. Improving the infrastructure and employment opportunities for migrants is critical for reducing their vulnerability. there was one doctor per 5. migrants lose the support structures of their place of origin and relocate in areas where these. On the other hand. was aimed at helping rectify the imbalance. the rapid influx of people from rural districts has contributed to the pool of under-employed and urban poor and to a multiplicity of infrastructural problems. educational opportunities. In the cities. many have limited resources. Most migrants to the cities are adult males who are poor and in search of a better life. For many. Health care A recent report of the Asian Development Bank (ADB. Successive five-year plans have aimed at free and universal education with a view to eliminating illiteracy and improving trade skills.740 in 1981 to one per 3. but on those attempting to re-enter the local labour force. are poor. The main consequence of international out-migration is the large amount of funds earned for the nation (Rahman. Some of the main epidemic and endemic diseases have declined. Migration and vulnerability While people move in search of a better life. This is because of poor communications. Progress has been slow.498 people and one nurse per 11. Educational opportunities Access to education is also a problem in Bangladesh. the provision of health services has improved over the past decade. By comparison.000 births. an extensive structure for delivery of services in family planning has been established. it has relieved pressure on the rural labour market to some extent. not only by limited resources.370. At the same time. Only about 30 per cent of the population is estimated to be covered by primary health care. As population grows and the country modernises. especially in rural areas. Thus. malnutrition. and job prospects. these questions are explored through six interrelated topics: health care. and living in crowded conditions with inadequate waste disposal and water supply. not only on remittances. International movements A recent BlDS survey suggests that international migration accounts for 17 per cent of total out-migration from rural Bangladesh. but also by difficulty of access. as will the rural landless.861 people. mask the fact that people in urban areas have much better access to health care than those in rural areas (Table 2). but communicable diseases are still significant. but this is so for all social services. it is poverty revisited. HEALTH AND EDUCATION In a country where many people are poor. 1991).The main destination of permanent migrants is the United Kingdom (where some 300. 1989).production and wealth that has accompanied the spread of modern technology.700 and 4. malnourished. malnutrition. Opportunities are hard to find when they reach their destination. while migrants in cities locating in marginal areas are at risk from floods and diseases associated with overcrowding. many health problems occur. so that contraceptive prevalence rates have steadily increased (ADB. The main recipient countries of temporary migration are in the Middle East (where 650. What are the trends in health care and education? What are the main relationships between climate and human health? How might climate change affect them? In this section of the briefing document. however. However. The main causes of death are diarrhoeal diseases. the consequences on family members left behind in the rural areas can be profoundly adverse.235 people in 1991.000 moved between 1976 and 1989). and vector-borne diseases. poverty.

The consequences of this for the development of Bangladesh in future seem clear. enterprise. Schools are in poor condition and the curriculum content old. Poverty The Bangladesh Bureau of Statistics estimates of the population below the poverty line based on energyintake (calories and protein) show that the poverty ratio declined from 73 percent in 1881 to 47percentin 1988/89 (48percent for rural population and 44 per cent for urban population). There are many other organisations running similar and adult education programmes. and irrelevant to every-day life. These are complex factors. In fact. education. vol. For men it was 31 per cent. rigid.. 1981. respectively. to measure poverty. and education will not by itself achieve the change. although attendance has been much less. This reflected mainly the fact that poor families could not afford to have children away from the tasks at home. and population planning. a UNDP estimate.Table 2: Health care in Bangladesh. Health Factor Rural % of population covered by health services % of population with access to safe water % of population with water-sealed latrine % of children immunised % against TB of population with access to ORS for diarrhoeal diseases % of women covered by antenatal care mortalityrate/l000 (Source: M.472 non-formal primary schools providing basic 20 . the fact is that the number of poverty-stricken people in Bangladesh is massive. clothing. the Bangladesh Rural Advancement Committee (BRAC) ran l4. 1992).8 per cent of the population was literate in 1991. The reasons for this include rapid population growth. et al. the poverty ratio is certainly higher than 47 per cent. exhibiting literacy rates of 35 and 18 per cent in 1981. and the types of trades chosen.5 per cent. as 70 per cent of these students are girls. Hence. some 60 per cent dropped out before completing primary school. These aim at the disadvantaged and small farmer families with targeted programmes emphasising self-help. and the alleviation of poverty. Ahmed. especially girls. the poverty ratio is found to be much higher. et 1981 Urban 80 76 10 80 100 40 9 26 53 - education in several districts. clean drinking water. sanitation. educational opportunities have continued to improve. literacy. Unfortunately. along with several other development programmes.each teaching 30 students. The uneven access to education is carried through as between urban and rural sectors. on that basis.. 1990. employability.puts it at 86. Indeed. health. For the education of primary school drop-outs and children who never went to school. and domestic policy biases. Even so. hardcore poverty increased between 1986 and 1989 by 30 per cent in rural areas and 8 per cent in urban areas (Bangladesh Bureau of Statistics. and women 16 per cent. 1988). For example. Some social transformation is required before the large number of poor people can perceive value in education and changes in the traditional ways of doing things (Maloney. data and methodological differences produce different results. Obviously. The controversial measurement of poverty aside. such as health. (Data collected from Bangladesh Bureau of Educational Information and Statistics (BAN BEIS). 35. 1).Dhaka. and a tradition that saw little room for formal education and the benefits that it can bring.which may be called a poverty ratio with reference to the human dignity line. These schools are primarily focussed on the education of girls. freedom of choice) at a minimum level. low economic growth. Bangladesh Bureau of Statistics. 1992). according to estimates of the Bangladesh bureau of Statistics. small but important gains have been made through programmes of voluntary organisations. 1991a. Ahmed.5 44 1 17 al. large numbers of people do not receive formal education and this affects especially the rural poor.) Although rather slowly.81 per cent of boys and 76 per cent of girls were enrolled. if one were to consider the fulfilment of other basic needs (shelter. 1990) 24. but food intake alone cannot be accepted as a basis for measuring poverty. It is worth noting that while the overall poverty ratio has. but very significant inequalities remain. even though it may not be as high as 86. agriculture. However. Socioeconomic status was also reflected in children who continue in technical training. medicine. in addition to energy-intake. these problems are difficult to rectify under existing socio-economic conditions and value systems (Task Force. the ratio in 1988/89 was still 3 percentage points higher than the 44 percent estimated for 1963/1964. virtually no improvement from 24. But this sharp decline appears to be inconsistent with poor economic performance during the 1980s. declined significantly during the latter half of the 1980s.3 per cent in 1974. While recognised by educationists.5 per cent for 1990 (UNDP. This ratio would appear to be too high. 1992. Improvements in basic education and technical training are needed to effect changes in other aspects of social well-being. By 1991. unequal distribution of productive resources. as of September1993. Primary schools increased around 20 percent and teachersl6 percent between 1975-76 and 1990-9 1. It is highly likely the latter has involved mostly rural migrants in search of urban employment. large-scale unemployment.

et a!. Aid programmes and/or monetarisation of the rural economy and/or technology transfers may help increase food production. Incomes and education. carbohydrates. Thus. Poverty lies at the centre of the diagram. 1991. and limited employment opportunities outside agriculture to provide incomes with which to purchase food. such as scurvy. 1991a. More fundamentally. probably affecting over half of households (Ahmed. 1981). anaemia. A study by Quddus and Ara (1991) focused on the relationship between nutritional diseases and their seasonal variations to the socio-economic conditions of households in three geographically distinct villages. which is in non-crop agriculture such as fisheries. for a large number of people. along with educational opportunities for girls. and therefore purchasing capacity. Thus. should improve. 1990. The trends in household incomes shown earlier in Figure 8 show that. had a significant influence on nutrition status. internally as well as internationally. Rural areas were worse affected (by about 10 per cent) than urban areas. but many lacked access to it. While some were able to recover from second degree malnutrition in the lean season to first degree malnutrition in the peak season. 1). A simplified diagram shows the main causes of malnutrition in Figure 17. Food availability and malnutrition. 1988. they may face starvation. as when food supplies are affected by drought or flood. These efforts need to be considered in the light of climate change. 199lb. This would improve nutrition. also occur in the peak season when more food was generally available. night blindness. many of the children had nutritional deficiency diseases. starvation is the result of entitlement failure (Sen. the prospects in the near future are not good. and so improve health. Several nutrition studies have been conducted in Bangladesh since the 1960s. therefore. At a time of high population growth with consequent heavy pressure on the very limited land. In this sense. some nation-wide. malnutrition and hunger are widespread in Bangladesh. however. but may not in-and-of-itself significantly increase food supply. the prospects for improved food production and intake for a majority of families does not seem bright. Thus. rickets and beriberi (Figs 19a/b). and Task Forces. Improvement disease incidence did. especially of mothers. household incomes and expenditures and food intake and nutrition status. like most other factors of life. 78). These include people who have very few resources at their command. due to lower incomes and poorer environmental conditions. 20 CAUSES OF MALNUTRITION Figure 17. Quddus and Am.. There are diseases that stem directly from malnutrition. It is possible that a warming climate accompanied by more frequent and extreme events might act as a countervailing force to government and private efforts to improve farm development and alleviate poverty and malnutrition. . This in turn would require policy focus on education and skills development for employment in professions and trades which could generate wealth and incomes. likely to be vulnerable to climate change in future.Malnutrition As a consequence of poverty. This may suggest that policy should focus on creating secure employment opportunities outside of crop agriculture. Whether in peak season (early winter) or lean (monsoon). Maloney. Improved education may help lead to a more balanced diet and improved sanitation. These diseases arise from a deficiency in protein. In both seasons. vol. as economic growth and development improve. fat. the limited access to land. They are. vitamins. 70 per cent of children 5 years and under suffered malnutrition. or more importantly. in times of regional adversity. livestock. Socio-economic and environmental factors causing malnutrition in Bangladesh (Source: BRAC. employment. access to adequate income opportunities is needed. almost none of the latter could recover to normal. and minerals. The 1989-90 child survey concludes that more than one-third of children aged between 6 and 71 months were stunted and about one-quarter severely underweight (Bangladesh Bureau of Statistics. to break the cycle. and nonagricultural activities. are closely linked to seasonality and climatic variations. poultry and forestry. and others that can take hold because malnutrition weakens resistance to them. 12 per cent of the children suffered from third degree or advanced malnutrition (Figure 1 8a and 1 8b). stomatitis. 1979).

Table 6. Islam. Flooding increased this dependence by limiting access to the few tube-wells. et a!. It occurs all year. Mitra. Cholera has been chosen from among the various water-borne diseases to illustrate some of the problems.4) TRENDS IN HEALTH CARE AND EDUCATION A population that is healthy and educated is better able to avoid poverty and the adverse effects of climate variations. dominated by the El Tor strain (Siddique. 1989). Figure 19. While different cholera strains have different peaks of incidence. little research has been done on the relationship between surface water and diseases in Bangladesh (Haque and Hoque. lowering the resistance of large segments of the population to disease. poverty and malnutrition remain rife. Even on a seasonal basis. but on Sandwip the storm and floods caused overcrowding in an already densely settled area (1000/km2). Sampling over 12 months revealed that. For example. the abundance of water dilutes the prevalence of bacteria that cause cholera. Akram. whereas to the north the reverse applied 21 . and by helping to contaminate pond water. would help buffer Bangladesh against ill-effects of future climate change. water tables eventually fall below the bottom of some tube wells and large numbers of people resort to bacteria infected pond water. Seasonal variation in nutritional deficiency diseases among 0-5 year old children in three villages (Source of data used: Qudus and Ara. As the monsoon moves towards peak.. While recent trends in improved health care and education in Bangladesh are encouraging. et al. About three-quarters of the people normally depend on ponds for their drinking water. since most water bodies are interconnected. The precise mechanism of an epidemic is not clear. but as water volume reduces towards the end of the monsoon season densities increase.Figure 18. as well as in security of food production. as are surface soils. but has a marked seasonal pattern. 181). especially among adults.3). 377-382). 1990. four-fifths of cholera cases were of the classic strain and only onefifth El Tor. Improvements in health care and education. in the dry season. in the south of the country. but are polluted by indiscriminate defecation practices and unsanitary disposal systems. However. and Eusof. Table 6. Cholera also followed the severe floods of September 1988 (Siddique. 1991. 1991b). Mazumder. some 80 per cent of all illness is linked to water-borne diseases. Water-borne diseases In Bangladesh. natural disasters often facilitate cholera epidemics. Seasonal variation in malnutrition among 05 year old children in three villages (Source of data used: Qudus and Ara. Also. an explosive epidemic of cholera on Sandwip Island in 1985 was induced by a cyclone and tidal surge in late May near the time when the incidence of cholera is normally at its lowest (June and July) (Siddique.. nutrition and disease are apparent. especially in the monsoon season. 1989. 1991. Water is the main means for spreading communicable diseases like diarrhoea and typhoid. the linkages between climate. Factors influencing cholera Cholera (Vibrio cholerae) is an important common cause of potentially fatal dehydrating diarrhoea. This contributed to the outbreak and transmission of the disease. Surface waters are important sources of water intake.

Figure 20. 1982b). 1982a. Further research is needed to clarify these sorts of relationships. Rahman. These vectors and pests proliferate in polluted and unhygienic environments. Were social conditions to remain unchanged. polluted water. malaria affected over 1. (1991a. Information on one of these types of mosquito is summarised in order to illustrate whether there are important relationships that might be susceptible to climate change. conditions that may well be enhanced by rapid urbanisation as public health and sanitation systems fail to keep pace with demand (Ahmed.. It was transmitted throughout the cultivated lowlands mainly by the Anopheles philippensis mosquito (Elias. such as sandflies. whereas the latter is more viable in the brackish and estuarine systems of the south. cockroaches. like cholera. Ali.5 million people and there were nearly 50. Mosquitoes create a health problem by transmitting parasites to humans that cause various diseases. This could. lice. diarrhoeal diseases occur in a wide range of temperatures under tropical to temperate climates. transmit bacteria.. but stopped in 1970 by which time reported cases of malaria were relatively few. be countered by other factors related to climate change.000 deaths per year. For example. The Anopheles species of mosquito are the most prevalent in Bangladesh and carry parasites that cause malaria. Both seasonality and climatic extremes are significant. Anopheles mosquito breed in clean water whereas Culex species prefer stagnant. Given these conditions. 23 . claim that the hardier El Tor strain is more liable to be found in polluted water-logged areas of the north than the classic biotype. A change in the seasonal patterns of rainfall and temperature could adversely affect farm production and incomes thereby intensifying poverty and the susceptibility of farm families to disease. a trend shown in the graph in Figure 21 (Rosenberg and Maheswary. The main condition for the prevalence of diarrhoea is sanitation. Malaria In the late 1950s. For example Siddique. Eradication using chemicals. and Chowdhury. Climatic influences Clearly. n. which is tied to poverty. there are many social and environmental factors that influence the incidence and spread of diarrhoeal diseases. would climate change significantly increase water borne diseases in Bangladesh in future? Globally. Increased warmth and humidity could cause disease-bearing insects. A major reason for the resurgence of malaria in the lowlands was its transmission from the forested hills of the north eastern areas of the country by migrants to the lowlands during the political turmoil of the early 1970s. then the transmission of diarrhoeal diseases may be facilitated in various ways. 1987). mosquitoes. et al. malaria increased 10 fold. Improvements in economic growth and development ought to help alleviate poverty and improve living conditions. 1992). Vector-borne diseases Vectors and pests. et al. although an increase in extreme climatic events could be. 1991a. 1126).). to proliferate thereby facilitating transmission of diarrhoeal diseases.(Figure 20). parasites. Changing ecological conditions in various regions of the country is given as a possible explanation for this pattern. Clusters of V cholera isolations in the 12 months following the September 1988 floods appear spatially distinct. like flies and cockroaches.d. and rodents. Within 5 years of stopping the eradication programme. climate plays an important role. B) that an increase in mean annual temperature in Bangladesh of up to 3°C may not in-and-of-itself be important in fostering epidemics. Mainly El Tor strains were in the north and mainly Classic strains in the south (Source: Siddique. started in 1961. and viruses that cause a range of diseases that pose serious health problems for the people of Bangladesh. Normally. like DDT. however. If climate change intensifies the monsoonal system and/or increases the incidence of flood and cyclone disasters in Bangladesh. the mosquito vector will be focused upon for more detailed comment. the country is classified as cholera-free. Bangladesh (ICDDR. increased disasters could intensify poverty and inhibit improvements in living conditions thereby facilitating transmission of disease. flies. It has been gathered from International Centre for the Diarrhoeal Disease Research. To illustrate current and potential problems. The Culex species of mosquito carry parasites that cause filariasis and Japanese encephalitis. Begum.

25. 1990). P. Incidence is most in the north and eastern forested hills and southeastern coast. the area remains a reservoir of intense. Tribal hill people have resistance to the kind of plasmodium prevalent in the hill tracts. railways. Resurgence seems more pronounced in areas where the introduction of wide scale anti-malaria tactics preceded development of a primary health care system. together with the incidence of malaria. The current distribution of the main malaria vectors appears in the map in Figure 22. and overcrowded living conditions. The project created approximately 2. Figure 21. This occurs by the return migration of plains people from hill areas carrying parasites acquired in the hills. 1985). as well as the monsoon season. 1992). vivax and falciparum were the main parasites carried by the mosquitoes. dirus bites while living in. and localised rainfall runoff created pools within the project area that provided suitable breeding habitat.In general. 1992. In addition. Although ideal long-run records on infection were not available. Proportion Pf is the Pf (Plasmodium falciparum) infections per 100 malaria positive slides (Source: International Assessment of the Malaria Programme: Bangladesh.API is annual parasite incidence (the malaria positives per 1000 population under surveillance). whereas people from the plains are highly susceptible to this strain (Rosenberg. 1989). It is transmitted from person to person by Anopheles dirus. The Chandpur Irrigation Project provides an example of mosquito invasion and resurgence on the floodplain. 163).falciparum was significantly higher in the project area (200 per cent SFR) than in adjacent areas (Mirza.000 ha of land meant that there was little chance of flushing out mosquito larvae by flood water. Recently. 1982. The distribution of malaria vectors and the incidence of malaria in Bangladesh in the late 1980s. However. unchecked malaria transmission from which the thickly populated alluvial plains are being re-infected. 1991a. p. both An aconitus and An annularis have been implicated in transmitting malaria on the floodplains of Bangladesh (ISPAN. embankments for flood control. poorly drained embanked areas can enhance stagnant and polluted water thereby facilitating vector breeding (Culex) and increasing the prevalence of filariasis. 1989). Rahman. flood embankments. Uncontrolled use of malarial drugs increased parasitic resistance to them. mosquitoes developed resistance to control sprays (Elias. Rosenberg and Maheswary. 160-162). and decreases towards the drier west— where filariasis is prevalent (Ahmed. philippensis with parasites derived from malaria carriers who were originally infected through A. and from re-infection of A. created a permanent breeding ground for Anopheles mosquitoes (Mirza. 24 . 1990). Because spraying of breeding areas under the forest is very difficult. Ahmed. Figure 22.830 ha of water in the form of borrow pits and irrigation canals which carry water in the dry season. The 104 km of embankment enclosing 55. mainly in response to environmental factors associated with human landuse and settlement. and roads in the deltaic area have reduced the spread of silty water thereby facilitating vector breeding (Anopheles) and increasing the prevalence of malaria. Malaria in the forested hills of Bangladesh has never been controlled. Bangladesh. The incidence of filarias is not shown. and the very favourable climate. about 60 per cent was covered in waterhyacinth. 1982a. 1982. a highly efficient vector. 1991a. and Rahman. hill areas. The incidence and proportion Pf of malaria in Bangladesh between 1979 and 1988. but is prevalent in the north-west and around the main cities (Source: International Assessment of the Malaria Programme. 1982b). 192). including irrigation works. analysis of records for 1986 indicated that the attack of malarial vector P. Invasion on the plains is selective. This. or visiting. Its infectivity rate is clearly tied to amount of rainfall (Rosenberg. (ISPAN. By 1990.

1986. and people from infected forest areas is a main reason for its resurgence on the lowlands.Climatic influences Climate is one of five main epidemiological factors contributing to the transmission of malaria (Begum. the present-day hazardousness of Bangladesh will be reviewed by bringing together the extreme climatic events (outlined in the first section) with the various patterns of human activities that have resulted from recent socio-economic trends (outlined in the second section). 1982b). these climatic factors are necessary. and the amount of time of human exposure. if pressure on available water supplies were to lead in future to an expansion of irrigated dry-land crop production (e. it is generally agreed amongst researchers that the development rates of malarial parasites increase with warmer temperatures. Rosenberg. WATER. emphasis is on adverse effects rather than on the benefits that might well be associated with an assumed change in climate. Nevertheless. Rosenberg and Maheswary. Running through the appraisal is consideration of where the impacts are most likely to be felt and by whom. It is possible. 1982b). or extreme events. 1987. CURRENT VULNERABILITY It is often said that the best predictor of future possibilities lies in the pattern of past events. then. Elias et al. such as through flood control and/or irrigation. Rainfall and poorly maintained human settlements facilitate breeding of mosquitoes. As change proceeds. the notion of Bangladesh as a society in transition and its implications for future socio-economic change will be re-examined. However. Predicted temperature changes under a warming climate are small compared with the present annual range and year-to-year fluctuations. 24 .AND VECTORBORNE DISEASES Temperature. but not sufficient for these diseases. in the absence of an efficient eradication programme. However. the question posed is: What are the possible socioeconomic impacts of climate change on Bangladesh in future? In addressing this question. First. Second. Nevertheless. it could be argued that. The appraisal is organised around climatic variations. rainfall.. biting rate. Bangladeshi society is in transition. 1982. precipitation and humidity influence the incidence of water-borne (and airborne) diseases. wheat) at the expense of (or instead of) flood-irrigated boro rice. In a warmer climate. If increased warmth is associated with adequate rainfall for mosquito breeding. and Elias. the incidence of malaria could increase. the fluctuations in disease incidence in the past seem to be largely due to the activities of people. 1982a. While mosquito activity is linked to climate factors. Discussion in this section therefore begins by synthesising what has been made evident in the first two sections of the report. and their vectors may breed faster and live longer in warmer. whether it be as a consequence of climate change or human alteration of drainage. There is no baseline information from which assessments may be made as to the influence of environmental changes on the transmission of associated diseases.. future socio-economic developments may prove to be significantly different from the recent past. Bacteria. It can also be expected that irrigation works will continue to develop in future although the maximum areal extent may well be reached soon after the turn of the century. parasites. because it is assumed that they may cause the most adverse impacts in the early stages of global warming. long before the impacts of climate change take effect. Biswas. Drought and flood facilitate their transmission. such as spraying. regardless of climate change. Sanitation tied to poverty is the main condition for diarrhoeal diseases (like cholera). the conditions for mosquito breeding would remain high without suitable counter-measures. especially if economic development is impeded. WHAT ARE THE POSSIBLE SOCIO-ECONOMIC IMPACTS OF CLIMATE CHANGE ON BANGLADESH IN THE FUTURE? The previous two sections posed two questions: How does the current climate affect Bangladesh society and economy? What societal trends may influence the vulnerability of Bangladesh to changes in climate and sea level? In this section. and the presence of high risk groups. wetter conditions in Bangladesh. within irrigation areas. These are areas in which further research is required. environmental conditions. therefore. this would be beneficial in terms of malaria control. humidity and storm patterns could directly affect the vectors’ reproduction rate. that changes in temperature. On the other hand. Information about the ecology of disease carrying mosquitoes in Bangladesh is limited. mosquitoes may also move vertically into higher land (Rosenberg and Maheswary. Others are the habits and biology of the vector mosquitoes.g. This synthesis may help indicate some future possibilities for a Bangladeshi society undergoing climatic change and sea level rise. Climate change in future could encourage such diseases.

g.negative +/. The patterns in each map are combined onto one map showing the composite of extreme events and processes in Figure 23. main cities and migration flows. the adoption of small-scale technologies as part of the ‘green revolution’ has limited the degree of capitalist transformation of the agrarian sector.. Consequently. and their implications for increasing the vulnerability of Bangladesh to climatic variations and change in future. The events included cyclone.uncertain + + + + + + + + + + +/+/- This outcome is important and highlights the difficulties the government faces in developing policies for meeting the challenges of both economic development and environmental change. To simplify the task. and training should help decrease the vulnerability of various groups in society to socio-economic change. these socio-economic phenomena have been re-grouped into three main elements: GDP generation (e. 23 is compared with the distribution of selected human activities from Figure 24 and result is a generalised Increasing population Increasing numbers of landless Increasing number underemployed Increasing incidence of malaria Persistence water borne diseases Increasing permanent migrations Increasing seasonal migrations Increasing settlement on coastal lowlands Increasing settlement on chars Increasing settlement in other marginal locations Decreasing absolute poverty Increasing education opportunities Increasing health care services Increasing mid and upper classes Increasing migration into western districts Increasing urbanization Increasing economic diversification 26 . and infrastructure). many of the traditional socio-economic structures of rural Bangladesh have been maintained. the remainder of this review will focus on extreme natural events and hazards.g. These factors are not of course unrelated. and migration). Nevertheless. while at the same time constraining the development process. On the other hand. When the distribution of severe natural events from Fig. The map also shows that about 25 per cent of the country experiences more than one type of severe event. The socio-economic consequences of natural events are felt only in so far as they adversely affect human activities and well-being. For example.. Relating natural events to human activities broadly determines the degree of hazard or vulnerability of places and people therein. and marginalisation (e. Disregarding moderate and lesser events. whether or not it is climate induced. A summary of socio-economic trends over the last 30 years. This in turn has increased the level of foreign aid required for transforming the traditional economy of Bangladesh. is provided in Table 3. A simple way to assess vulnerability is to compare the map of multiple natural events in Figure 23 with the spatial distributions of key socio-economic phenomena shown in maps in section two (Figures 8-11). farming. employment. drought and riverbank erosion. Central to both is slowing the growth in population and alleviating poverty.g. It also seems reasonable to suggest from the review in sections one and two of this document that the sequence of large-scale natural disasters throughout the last 30 years has magnified some of the disruptive forces associated with economic development. however.Societal change A major element of social change in Bangladesh has been the rapid increase in population imposing on a limited resource base. The activities in Figure 24 show: industry and transport. improvements in health care. and economically depressed thanas. settlement. industry. Another has been the economic transformation along market economy lines. while the more insidious socio-economic effects of a slowly warming climate on crops will pose a much lesser problem to resolve. Table 3: Past socio-economic trends and vulnerability in Bangladesh. It is. density. This map provides a generalised geographical distribution of the main hazardous natural events affecting Bangladesh. Also provided is a general description of the direction of socio-economic vulnerability associated with each factor or trend. Past SocioEconomic Trends Direction of Socio-Economic Vulnerability + positive . Economic growth ought to facilitate improvements in health and education making the landless more employable in jobs created by such growth. the distribution in Figure 23 shows that only the north-eastern margins and part of the north-west of the country are free from severe natural events. flood. and health). income. It is likely that social changes wrought by economic development and the social disruptions consequent upon natural disasters (whether or not exacerbated by climate change and sea level rise) will dominate the future. It is therefore to be expected that this process will escalate as economic development proceeds into the future. education.. population (e. of significance that most of the socioeconomic trends in Table 3 point to enhanced vulnerability in future. However. the review of socioeconomic trends in section two of this document suggests that the socially disruptive forces typical of the capitalist transformation of a traditional agrarian economy are emerging. Thus. Natural events and vulnerable places The areal extent of the four types of severe natural events and processes affecting Bangladesh was shown in maps in Figures 4 to 7. increasing population and landlessness should increase the vulnerability of affected groups to social and environmental changes.

riverbank erosion. and salinity. 26 . A comparison of this map with that of severe natural events and processes above (Figure 23) provides a generalised picture of the vulnerability or hazardousness of Bangladesh. Figure 24. A comparison of this map with that of human activities below (Figure 24) provides a generalised picture of the vulnerability or hazardousness of Bangladesh. floods. The spatial distribution in Bangladesh of selected human activities: settlements and migration. The spatial distribution in Bangladesh of five main types of severe natural events and processes: cyclones. industry and infrastructure.Figure 23. droughts. and economically depressed upazillas.

• Droughts. although severe flooding and riverbank erosion would be maintained and may even increase. causing saline waters to intrude further inland. Socio-economic prospects: the B-A-U scenario It is not easy to project with confidence the socioeconomic circumstances of Bangladesh. but a broad outline of future prospects under a B-A-U (business-as-usual) scenario is provided below. riverbank erosion.map of Bangladesh showing the hazardousness of the country. and then summarising the socio-economic impacts that may arise. and have even less room for manoeuver when others better off engage in economic exchanges that deprive them of their entitlements (Sen. warming of the oceans may lead to a rise in global-mean sea-level of 18 cm by 2030 and 30 cm by 2050. Of course. Third. but they were often temporary. these climate change prognoses suggest several likely outcomes for Bangladesh over the next 40 to 60 years. enhanced self-reliance. it is significant in terms of on-going coastal erosion. “shrink. Natore. reaching north-west from the districts of Narail and Gopalganj in the south through Magura. tropical cyclones could become more frequent and “ride” on a higher sea. and improved potable water supply. 1981). The most important shift has in fact been the replacement of a planned approach by a market economy. poverty alleviation has always been the top priority. reduced population growth rate. However. The assessment of socio-economic trends in section two suggested that a number of groups of people are more vulnerable to climatic variations and extremes than others. While this may not sound like much. Fourth. say. riverbank erosion.and have in the past been. flooding. FUTURE VULNERABILITY The current vulnerability of Bangladesh summarised in the synthesis of Figures 23 and 24 provides a base for reviewing the question: What are the possible socioeconomic impacts of climate change on Bangladesh in future? This is done by first summarising changes in global warming that are expected to affect severe natural events. and salinity problems which occur mostly in the coastal zone west of Feni district. and riverbank erosion combine in the mid-western zone. unsuited to prevailing conditions. • Flooding and riverbank erosion combine in a scattered. except perhaps for drought. salination. to be described in a later section. and altogether rather 26 . (Briefing Document #2: Sea level rise). Lakshmipur. The emphasis on different factors has varied from time to time. Poverty alleviation and employment generation were not integrally built into the process. However. and salinity) in the coastal zone may intensify and become more frequent and spatially extended. linear pattern through the length of the country. seasonal or experimental in nature. and places in areas lying beyond them may also face hazards. Natural events How might climate change affect the pattern of natural events in Figure 23? First. floods. changes in the timing of monsoonal rains could lead to decreased droughtiness. Second. and Rajshahi in the north. and #3 Natural resources. changes to the monsoon could mean more rainfall in a longer season enhancing flooding and riverbank erosion. Faridpur and Pabna to Sirajganj. severe events may become more frequent and intense. 50 years from now. may intensify and become more frequent. #2 Sea. at a minimum. even the planned development was primarily investment and GNP-focused. Rajbari. • Major cities and their life-line systems are exposed to one type or more of severe natural events. • outside the multi-hazard core zones. improved status and role of women in society. The major socio-economic goals in Bangladesh currently are. because they command few resources with which to produce their own food and enter into exchange arrangements with others to meet their basic needs in times of stress. The design levels of existing protective barriers would. which may be called the river-margins zone. “shrinking” protective barriers. and the impacts that accompany the storm surges of cyclones (Briefing Document #6: Case of the coast). continue as such. universal primary education. poverty alleviation. • severe events and processes (cyclone. A slowly rising sea level would exacerbate these effects along the coastal margin by: altering erosion rates. These are: • the multi-hazard core areas (Figure 23) would. Jhalakati. and Pirojpur. • severe events (flooding and riverbank erosion) in the river-margins zone. inundation. and increasing flooding by cyclone storm surges. Jessore. in effect. floods. Obviously. The severe natural events and areas most exposed to them are: • Cyclones.level rise. There have also been shifts in strategies.” • drought in the mid-western zone may reduce in frequency and intensity. there were various poverty alleviation programmes. particularly for groups at risk.concerned with economic growth. improved primary health care. (See Briefing Documents: #1 Climate change. particularly within the districts of Noakhali. there will be variations in vulnerability within each zone.) In the absence of effective counter measures.

global warming may bring with it an increased incidence and scale of climatic extremes. education. training and health. In the first instance.2). population expansion. occurrence of natural hazards. and water supplies. given appropriate policies and programmes. • • • • • • • At risk groups In summary. inequality and insecurity in society will almost certainly increase. poverty. component of the GDP. the number of landless would have increased as population will have grown. who would be most at risk. about the same as that (3. in time. the questions of competition and efficiency are irrelevant as far as they are concerned. were adopted towards promoting a market economy and reducing the role of government in the economy. the wealthy and middle class may form a larger proportion of the population than now. depending on economic growth. a larger number of landless will have been absorbed into non-agricultural sectors. • service sectors of the economy will have increased further. If the poor in Bangladesh were left behind in the planned development strategy. in both respects. there will still be a large group of under-employed. but also the social interventions have not been strong and comprehensive enough in practice. This process has been carried forward very vigorously in recent years and it is the market economy philosophy that now underpins all economic policies and programmes in Bangladesh (Task Force. on average. even under conditions of high and sustained economic growth. and who would be best able to take advantage of it? 29 . would in turn influence economic and social activities. vol. In Bangladesh. but living conditions for the poor might not have improved much. In the second instance. structural adjustment policies. such as agricultural lands. Given that a large proportion of the population in Bangladesh is poor and unable to participate meaningfully in the market economy. but their productivity will likely remain rather low. under a BAU scenario (indicated by the discussion in the above paragraphs and earlier relevant discussions) maybe summarised. but the poor and disadvantaged will continue to form the bulk of the total population. Very much the same situation. These biophysical changes in response to climate change may be at a pace that will enable socio-economic systems to adapt. Economic growth may accelerate somewhat if the rich invest more and use upgraded technology. human development (in terms of economic and social progress) encompassing all citizens may or may not have made significant progress. The economic growth rate was around percent in 1992-93. 199lb.marginal to the totality of needs. such as those of privatisation. the country is at a very low point on the transitional trajectory. and agricultural transformation might displace significant numbers of farmers and labourers. But sluggishness in economic growth has persisted. The essential argument in favour of a market economy relates to ‘efficiency’ promoted and nurtured by the competition that a market economy generates. persisting mass poverty. a change in temperature and rainfall would. urban expansion in major centres will have greatly increased. particularly in the social sectors of education. there are two ways in which the effects of global warming may register on a Bangladesh society in transition. Outcomes have been low economic growth. traditional rural attitudes and traditional adaptive methods for coping with severe natural hazards should have undergone some change as modernisation should have proceeded some way. settlements will have intensified. affect biophysical systems (see Briefing Document #3 Natural Resources). not only has high economic growth not been achieved so far. Changes in the stock of natural resources. Poverty alleviation and employment generation therefore remain outside the immediate concerns of this paradigm. Thus. and empowerment of the poor in terms of their access to resources and power to make decisions. forests. but. migrations from high to low density rural areas and to cities will have intensified. may continue to be the reality in the foreseeable future under a BAU scenario. the extent and quality of education and health care will have markedly improved. If climate change and sea level rise occurred under BAU socio-economic circumstances. for broad-basing the benefits. The burden is left to what is known as the ‘trickle down’ effect. in more specific terms. as follows: • • • • population will have at least doubled. training and information) to participate in the market economy in a meaningful way. deregulation and globalisation. Beginning in the early 1980s. Some likely outcomes in about 50 years from now. strong government interventions are needed. others adverse. manufacturing may have become a relatively more important. But it is well known from East Asian experiences that. and burgeoning unemployment. unless poverty-alleviating measures can be successfully implemented. at the same time. they do not have the ability (in terms of resources. And this may require improved adjustments so that society better copes. accompanied by failure to make headway in respect of other socio-economic goals. but still small.8 per cent) achieved annually during the past two decades. Some changes may be beneficial.

and the failure of embankments to cope with large floods. 199lb. people and society should be better equipped and empowered to undertake appropriate hazard adjustments more efficiently. irrigation. HAZARD ADJUSTMENTS Traditional practices that have evolved over the centuries. for example. Chowdhury. adjustments or interventions may be of two main kinds. Should adverse climate and sea level changes occur under this “business-as-usual” scenario. the prospects of success of these and other more appropriate measures (if formulated) will remain seriously constrained due to resource limitation and the limited ability of people and society to implement and maintain them effectively. due to a rapidly growing population. low economic growth. each complementing the other. security and sustainability. such as floods. These have been aimed at moderating the floods and reducing their impacts on the one hand and enhancing the resource base on the other. But. However. Also. . It must be remembered. Khondker. In other words. A climate that changes adversely is unlikely to affect them as much as it would people who possess very little. that a major reason for severe floods in Bangladesh is the copious amounts of water that moves through this country from upper riparian countries. In future. planting regimes. • the most at risk will include people who already live in marginal conditions. One is the vision of an optimistic socio-economic scenario (as opposed to the BAU scenario outlined above) to be brought about by socio-economic adjustments aimed at accelerated economic growth and human development with equity. the focus is on how the potential for adverse effects of climate variation and change under a BAU scenario might be reduced in Bangladesh by adopting purposeful policies and interventions. 30 B-A-U SCENARIO If the recent past becomes “business-as-usual” in future. and traders who artificially create scarcity by hoarding food before charging exorbitant prices for it. A very ambitious approach to flood control across the country has been proposed and is being developed under the Flood Action Plan (FAP). or at least enables them to recover more quickly after a disaster occurs. For example: the marginal farmers. Some people will possess wealth that cushions them from the effects of disasters. there are questions about its adverse socio-economic and environmental impacts. Many flood control and irrigation schemes (FCD/Is) have been implemented over the past few decades. embankments. urban squatters and migrants. are adequately built into the design and implementation of various FAP components (Hunting Technical Services Limited. especially among the marginalised poor. Under the BAU scenario. Under an optimistic scenario. and catastrophic losses will become more frequent. 1992. storing reserves. for coping with climatic variations and extremes include. there will be more people at risk than today. If accompanied by a pattern of extreme natural events and hazard adjustments similar to those of the recent past. rural landless. and women left to look after the household. Many traditional coping measures and government policies and programmes have evolved aimed at both controlling and reducing the impact of natural hazards. and controlling wherever feasible. regardless of adverse climate events. severe natural events have not affected all groups of people in similar ways. under a BAU scenario. seed selection. 1992. in this context. the children suffering from malnutritional diseases. It is certain that this will be so in future. and burgeoning unemployment will persist. 1992). Thus: • the least at risk will include: urban rich including absentee landlords. it is important that lessons from recent experiences in Bangladesh relating to poor maintenance of embankments and other physical infrastructures. then the number of people at risk will increase. There will also be more wealth at risk as economic development expands. But if it can be ensured that the FAP’s purpose will be achieved with no or negligible adverse social and environmental effects. and so on. money lenders whose high interests almost guarantee that property will fall their way. It aims at providing a more secure physical environment for economic development by regulating the water regime.In the past. disastrous natural events. the adverse socio-economic impacts of extreme events in future will mostly fall on the weaker segments of the stratified society. river bank erosion. Parker. it is likely that. The other kind of intervention encompasses hazard adjustments aimed at reducing the impacts of. but reinforced through research and policy support in recent times. the cost of implementing it will be very high. In this context. WHAT ALTERNATIVES ARE THERE FOR FUTURE ADJUSTMENT TO CLIMATE AND SEA LEVEL CHANGE? In this section. living in cities and towns. mass poverty. loss of lives and property will escalate. 1992. cyclones and drought. that cost may not be too high when weighed against the resources (mostly foreign aid) that may be needed for recovery from disasters in the future that FAP will have moderated or controlled.

One way of evolving such a process would be to start by primarily focussing on employment. with adequate administrative decentralisation and political devolution to appropriate levels being essential prerequisites. Obviously. or others that may be developed in the course of time) than would seem likely under the BAU scenario. will help them undertake appropriate economic activities or find appropriate wageemployment. as the focus is on the poor. and relief and rehabilitation. If assisted to make choices of activities with reference to existing and potential domestic (particularly rural) demand patterns. supported by appropriate institutional networks. of topmost priority in this country. extension services. Basic education (literacy. it will be necessary to identify sectors. and organisation. In response to a sequence of severe events in recent years. Instead of a certain rate of GNP growth. when people who had no jobs or incomes before are productively employed and others who were employed. by themselves. These two goals are. At the same time. This employment-based strategy is anchored on the following crucial elements: basic education. at times. which would ensure better implementation. Equity will also be promoted by this process. consideration is given as to how a more empowering socio-economic transformation (from the points of view of both society as a whole and people at large). people have been reluctant to evacuate in response to warnings against impending disasters. If people at large are going to participate in the socio-economic transformation process in this way. including those arising from natural hazards. activities must be planned at local places. Macro. the outcome will contribute directly to poverty-alleviation. skill training will equip them to undertake economic activities (on a selfemployment or wage-employment basis). are more productive. this approach places emphasis on the poorer segments of the society. the target may be generation of a certain number of productive employment opportunities. credit. Adjustments in macro and meso-policies and institutional arrangements will be necessary to make adequate resources. The strategy may be based on policy adjustments within a market economy framework and not on centralised planning. information. technology. the government’s programme of building shelters against cyclones and floods is being strengthened. A new market economy concept that mainstreams rather than alienates the poor needs to evolve so that the latent creative energies of the people at large are released and mobilised in a competitive framework at the grassroots. ‘Flood-proofing’ settlements and services is one strategy that is being considered (Hunting Technical Services Ltd. The annual employment target must be high enough to make a dent on the more than 12 million jobless (on a labourtime basis). Such a strategy must necessarily be people-centred in the sense that their full potential is used in conjunction with the best possible utilisation of available resources and that they benefit equitably from the outcome. This approach appears to be very relevant to the Bangladesh context. but there can be other mechanisms 31 . skill training. administrative decentralisation and political devolution are key factors toward enabling people in local spaces to find their rightful places in the process. the proximate cause of poverty in Bangladesh is unemployment in terms of unutilised time and low productivity. and results in respect of both structural and non-structural disaster control and mitigation measures (being implemented or in the works. as well as to economic growth. In the next section. and opportunities for export. James and Pitman. But progress in these directions will also enhance the ability of the people and society to respond better to other problems. technologies and institutional support available where they are needed for this process to work effectively. demand may not become a constraint. Elaboration of this employment-based approach is given in Ahmad (1993b). may be brought about in Bangladesh. Since it is impractical to prevent settlement on unstable. and unprotected land. land use planning. measures need to be adopted that help reduce vulnerability to floods and cyclones. 1992). and micro policies must also be conducive to this process. maintenance. Once the target is set. SOCIO-ECONOMIC ADJUSTMENTS A strategy dictated by and suited to the prevailing socioeconomic circumstances for accelerating economic growth and poverty alleviation is crucially needed in Bangladesh. and marketing assistance. Improvement in productivity should also be a part of the strategy. the public investment portfolio and policies to influence private investments may then be determined on that basis. sub-sectors and activities where the jobs can be created. 1992. for example. existing and potential opportunities in modern and export sectors should be identified and suitably promoted. and organisation consisting of the provision of. Hence. 1991a. while the labour force is increasing by about one million persons every year. such as those outlined above. It is also the case that. but a low levels of productivity. In the past. flood-prone. meso. In the institutional context. In fact. numeracy and life skills) will enable the people to gauge the potential that they possess. The measures adopted include: forecasting and warning systems.A major emphasis is also being placed on creating awareness and preparedness among people to reduce their susceptibility to the adverse effects of extreme events. as opposed to investment as has hitherto been the case. The government is seeking to strengthen the mechanism of providing adequate and timely warnings to the people concerned and preparing them to heed those warnings and seek shelter wherever possible. warnings were not adequate or timely or did not even reach the people at risk. complementarities within the production pattern.

32 .for moving the economy and society forward. business contacts and so on. Research into the impact of modernisation on customary behaviour may help identify how best to integrate traditional and modern systems so that vulnerability to environmental and social stress is minimised — with or without climate change. a new market economy may evolve in which the poor are mainstreamed through an employmentbased strategy anchored on: basic education. Despite the future uncertainties. shelter. the role of climate in water-borne and vectorborne diseases could have in the future. it is that poverty and vulnerability to environmental adversity are inextricably entwined. Perhaps this is most urgent for traditional adaptive mechanisms. there is a need to assess how customary behaviour is being modified in response to changing social and environmental conditions. Third. Large. skill training. These include not only technical adjustments like seed varieties and planting dates. They require investigation and documentation lest they be forgotten in the transition to modern ways. By attacking the problems of poverty and inequality. increasing numbers of displaced marginal farmers and labourers may be expected to migrate in search of employment opportunities. there is a need to examine the range of adaptive measures that are available for coping with environmental adversity. Indeed. These impinge on traditional values and practices. First. dense urban settlements are a relatively new phenomenon in Bangladesh. For example. Indeed. this also lies at the heart of poverty — the pervasive problem in Bangladesh. the socio-economic effects of climate variations in the urban environments of Bangladesh is of concern. KNOWLEDGE GAPS AND FUTURE RESEARCH NEEDS The final section of this Document addresses two questions: What lack of knowledge impedes the ability of Bangladesh to better adapt to environmental change and variability? and What research should be done to acquire the necessary knowledge? There are several general areas in which research could pave the way to improved adaptation. environmental conditions. infrastructure. often being shaped by a strong western influence promoted through aid. But if one message is clear. and health facilities surely lies at the heart of vulnerability to climatic variability and extremes. Such traditional measures of coping with adversity are woven into the social fabric of Bangladeshi society. Second. flood. how a forward thrust can be achieved is constantly under review in Bangladesh. an “optimistic” scenario would emphasise productive employment targets aimed at releasing the latent creative energies of the country’s poor people at the grassroots level. in some areas. as a transformation of agriculture along capitalist lines proceeds. a primary goal ought to be developing modem equivalents out of the proven principles that underpin the traditional methods of coping. Of course. two trends are quite clear: Bangladesh will be warmer and more urbanised. and drainage technologies. an optimism about much better outcomes than those outlined earlier as likely to materialise under the BAU scenario are justifiable. and value systems have been developing. but also measures of social reciprocity that serve to share the burdens of loss and the benefits of bounty. a key element in the development strategy of Bangladesh is its water control programme based on irrigation. OPTIMISTIC SCENARIO Rather than focus on “business-as-usual” investment and GNP growth targets. These social adjustments would be accompanied by an improved mix of structural and non-structural measures aimed at reducing the susceptibility of society to natural hazardsmeasures that would also prove helpful should climate and sea levels change in future. Studies are needed to assess how. there is a lack of fundamental knowledge concerning the relationship between climate variation and socio-economic effects. western education. With the ongoing modernisation process in Bangladesh. one is concurrently treating the issue of vulnerability and vice versa. traditional technologies are being adapted to changing socioeconomic conditions. Fifth. and organisational support at local level. Increased research in this field would appear to be well justified. and to what extent. The suggested employment-based approach merits further study. new institutional arrangements. there is an urgent need to develop means of empowering the landless and poor with entitlements to resources to ensure their resiliency in times of scarcity. This process may be exacerbated by climate change and sea-level rise. In this future of Bangladesh. Studies are needed of various forms of migration and resettlement of the landless to help anticipate the likely dimensions of problems that may arise if climate extremes worsen and sea level rises. education and training. Sixth. Hence. perhaps the most striking of these is the dearth of knowledge on the effects of climate on health: in particular. Increased knowledge about the ways in which climate change and variability might affect urban areas could contribute towards the development of urban patterns and infrastructure better equipped to cope with existing climatic variability and extremes. Ensured access to food. Finally. Fourth.

This research — which ought to be a major focus of Phase II of this project — would help to ascertain the priorities that could be given to various kinds of activities. policies aimed at reducing vulnerability to extremes given present climate through • embankments • irrigation • seed selection • planting regimes • storing reserves • emergency preparedness • landuse management • disaster preparedness and management procedures The nature and combination of the socio-economic policies (A) and the climate change policies (B) are likely to be different depending on whether climate changes at a slow or fast rate (Figure 25). and assessments of slow and fast rates of climate change. and the uncertainties of the projected frequency of extreme events. 33 . Assigning priorities between the various activities will require reliable estimates with regard to not only the rate of change of climate. Figure 25.WHAT SHOULD BE DONE? Fulfilling the research needs noted above requires interdisciplinary research (integrating social sciences and natural sciences) aimed at developing an optimum strategy for reducing the vulnerability of Bangladesh to climatic extremes. hazards adjustments to severe events. A schematic diagram showing the main relationships between three main elements for reducing vulnerability to global warming: socio-economic policies for alleviating poverty. the occurrence of extremes. A general framework for pursuing this research could take the form indicated in Figure 25. but also the rates of economic and social ‘development’. It aims to identify the main interactions between two main elements for reducing vulnerability. Policies aimed at socio-economic development through • improving employment • increasing incomes • reducing poverty • reducing population growth • improving education • improving technical training • improving health care B. These elements include: A.

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