Sohanur Rahman: Bangladesh is one of the most disasters prone & vulnerable countries in regards to climate change in the world. Climate change is amplifying the Climate vulnerability of hydro-meteorological disasters and also results food insecurity. The country is considered to be one of the most vulnerable to climate change because its disadvantageous geographic location; flat and low lying topography; funnel shaped coastline challenged by its high population density; high level of poverty; and reliance of various livelihoods on climate sensitive sectors, including agriculture, fisheries and water resources. Indeed, climate change poses a significant threat to the country. It brings additional threats to people and is undermining our development goals.
On average, approximately, 25% of the total area is flooded every year (BCCSAP, 2009). Due to the rise in the average sea level, an additional 14% of the country may be extremely vulnerable to floods by 2030(7th five year plan, 2015). According to the IPCC 4th assessment report, Global mean surface temperature is projected to rise by 1.1 C-6.4 C by the end of the 21st century. As a result, the impact of climate change will not only hamper the people’s life of Bangladesh, it will also disrupt to achieve the key results of Sustainable Development Goals for Bangladesh. The effects of the changing global climate are already being felt in Bangladesh and the country is ranked 2nd on climate change vulnerabilities index. In the country climate change affecting natural, social and economic system. Rapid onset events like flood, cyclone, landslide are causing damage of infrastructure and lives and livelihoods, while the slow onset events like drought rendering their homes environments permanently inhabitable and agriculture land unproductive. As a result, the availability of nutritious foods and clean water resources and decreasing and the ecosystem and safe living environments are facing destruction.
Like Barisal, Vast areas of this region, especially coastal parts, islands and islets are climate change hotpots regularly affected by natural disasters which creating vulnerabilities. Several studies indicate that the coastal zone vulnerability would be acute due to the combined effects of climate change, sea level rise, subsidence and changes of upstream discharge, cyclone and coastal embankments (BCAS, RA and Approach, 1994; WB, 2000). Four key types of primary physical effects i.e. saline water intrusion; drainage congestion; extreme events; and changes in coastal morphology have been identified as key vulnerabilities in the coastal area of Bangladesh (WB, 2000). Barisal city is lying on the banks of the Kirtankhola River; it is one of the country’s most important river ports. The biggest climate risks the city faces are cyclones and floods. At present, they pose a particular threat to citizens, residential and commercial buildings and cause most damage in the poorer Western parts of the city. The city is prone to flooding due to heavy rains, high river discharge, and cyclone storm surges. Climate change and urban development are resulting in greater flood risk. In Barisal city Main consequences are saline water intrusion, loss of assets and infrastructure, health impacts increased morbidity, water supply contaminated, sanitation and drainage systems disrupted, increasing salinity in the canals, river bank encroachment, livelihood change and biodiversity loss. Poor people of Barisal city live in low lying, flood prone riverside areas and they are most vulnerable to disasters related to climate change. We need resources to support our ideas. but do not have budget to support it. Empower us with our own regular resources and attention to DRR. More DRR & Climate financing for developing countries that are innocent victims. Fund disbursement should be in accordance with the local needs and priorities. We stressed for increasing budgetary allocation for coastal protection focusing on children and the youth. Pubic private partnership can be included into disaster management and CCA response. Corporate sector should produce and make available products (such as food, water, energy and medicine) which are use-full in CCA as well as disasters and relief operation.
Though, the government of Bangladesh has made laudable progress in disaster risk management and preparedness. The country already formulated National Plan for Disaster Management in the light of HFA1 following the guideline of UNISDR. Bangladesh has revised the Disaster Management Act, 2012 and Standing order on Disaster (SOD) to address both natural and man-made disasters. NGOs, CSOs, Youth led organization, development agencies, academia & research institutions are working actively with the government intervention for disaster risk reduction (DRR) in a comprehensive way. Long term investment needed in disaster prevention and CCA from Government with harmonization of polices from National to local levels. Poverty alleviation and reducing hunger should be a central focus in DRR & climate change adaption action. Local Government Institution needed more recourse and authority in DRR and CCA activities. Local Government units must work with children to address issues in DRR and recovery and reconstruction. Vulnerability tools should be brought under common ground. Assessment of Loss & Damage due to climate disasters and demand for compensation. Understanding of the local level disaster risks with the local vulnerable communities. Capacity strengthening on the localization of people oriented early warning system. It’s appropriate time to breaking the silence and act as a unit to create a platform for joint efforts on DRR and CCA. CSOs, NGOs & Youth led organizations should work as watchdog and put pressure on government and UN agencies and ensure citizens participation & accountability. Needed more media role in DRR. Collaboration between the government and non-government organizations to ensure inclusive DRR & fill-upping the gaps in different policies and action plans regarding child & Youth centered adaptation. Develop an action plan in national & local level for Children & Youth Centered Adaptation and Disaster Risk Reduction (DRR) for the government and actors towards building community resilience. It is strongly felt that the Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reeducation 2015-2030 (SFDRR) will create the opportunity for all actors to advance coordinated efforts.
Youth constitutes the greater part of the population of Bangladesh which in 28.2%. UNFPA (2014) projected that, by 2050 only 10-19% of Bangladesh’s population will consist of young people indicating the need for proper investment for human capital of the country. Youth are central is empowering pathway to lead their change, challenges, hierarchy and patriarchy, is cost effective. Youth are the best change agents, because they are motivated by strong ideas, willingly to take risks, have a lot of energy, trend setters for others and they are highly communicative. But they lacks on skill and opportunity, power, technical knowledge and materials resources. Moreover, the young people are aware about social and environmental problems and have the power to transform their societies towards a low carbon and climate resilience future. Besides, Youth empowerment would enable them to take adaptation and mitigation action and enhance effective participation of youth in climate change policy decision-making process. Youth able to take early action to stabilize their livelihoods build resilience and educate others on climate change impact, adaptation and mitigation. Because they are positive agents of change in their communities and raising awareness. Youth also can be mobilized in disaster preparedness and post disaster efforts e.g managing natural resources, mobilizing communities in a new technologies. Human activities, such as the use of fossil fuels, deforestation and unsustainable agriculture have been substantially increasing the atmospheric concentrations of greenhouse gases causing climate change.
Children and Youth should be included into local disaster management planning and capacity. Because Children are neglected in the society, organisations and even in the family and impact of disaster on children is huge as it affects their education, protection, health, food, and mental development. But Children and youth were specially recognized in the Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction 2015 – 20304 (referred as Sendai Framework). Children and youth are thereby officially recognized as an important partner with special needs in disaster settings. Children and youth are drivers of behavioral change, can provide innovative solutions, and can share perspectives that are vital in building resilience. It is critical then that children and youth acquire the appropriate knowledge, critical thinking and life-saving skills on how to reduce risk, prepare and respond to disasters, so they may make well-informed decisions to protect themselves and their community against future risks. We need Support and strengthen meaningful participation of children and youth in Disaster Risk Reduction and enable access to information. Ensure Meaningful participation of children and youth in Disaster Risk Reduction and policy development, planning, implementation, monitoring and evaluation Processes. Build safe community infrastructures and ensure relief and reconstruction help to reduce future risks. Create space and opportunity for children to speak out on DRR and undertake DRR actions in our interventions and advocate with DRR stakeholders, including governments and policy-makers at national and local levels to support participation of children in disaster risk reduction programmes.
Considering this vulnerable situation of Barisal Division, though youths are the prime mover for social change; adolescents and young people are joined together and mobilized to prevent and respond against these vulnerabilities and raised their voices and formed a network named “YouthNet for Climate Justice”. Challenges to next steps are resilience city planning, mainstreaming climate smart strategies in city development programs, continued and effective coordination and collaboration with all stakeholders in resilience and adaptation and financing for resilience program adaptation. We need more opportunities and spaces to discuss among ourselves as well as share our views with decision‐makers.