Mongla has the right ingredients, planners hope. Mongla, a booming port town on the country’s south-central coast, is testing that theory by embarking on an urban overhaul that aims to turn it into a magnet for climate migrants. Young men relax on a flood gate in the booming port town of Mongla, Bangladesh. For a young man with a third-grade education, the brick factory and its promise of hard cash became the only way to feed his family. Climate refugees: Bangladesh, Fariha spent her afternoon on an island of the Brahmaputra (also known as « Chars ») with her classmates to celebrate the end of the year when they got surprised by a storm. A report last week from the U.S. Government Accountability Office found that the State Department and other foreign aid agencies have not done enough to combat climate change-induced migration in developing countries, and highlighted Bangladesh as particularly vulnerable. Environmental migrants are defined as “persons or groups of persons who, predominantly for reasons of sudden or progressive changes in the environment that adversely affect their lives or living conditions, are obliged to leave their habitual homes, or choose to do so, either temporarily or permanently, and wh… But today, climate change is accelerating old forces of destruction, creating new patterns of displacement, and fueling an explosion of rapid, chaotic urbanization. Golam was a child the first time his family’s house was destroyed. It has a well-established deepwater port, surrounded by a sprawling industrial area with cement factories, diesel fuel mass storage facilities, and two dozen factories with jobs for 4,300 workers producing everything from luggage and electronics to packaged snacks and mannequins. "We don’t have any power to save our children.”, “People have always coped with flooding, and they learned how to cope with death,” Siddiqui says. But as the country began to pivot from an agricultural economy to one diversified into manufacturing and other urban industries, Dhaka exploded. Bangladesh, a densely populated, riverine South Asian nation, has always survived its share of tropical storms, flooding, and other natural disasters. In most cases, the migrants are extremely poor. “We are taking steps to face the threats of climate change. Those who are least responsible for polluting Earth’s atmosphere are among those most hurt by its consequences. In the city of Dhaka, the capital of Bangladesh, millions of climate refugees have already moved in, and they are living in harsh conditions that bring into focus the justice issues inherent in how climate affects the vulnerable … But he says he knows one thing for sure: “If the river didn’t take our land, I wouldn’t need to be here.”. Rent money flows into a real estate black market controlled by corrupt local officials and businessmen. Researchers have given different information on their number in Bangladesh. “Salinity is no longer a hopeless scenario,” he tells Climate … Climate change induced mi- gration or Climate Refugees1appeared only recently in the social history of Bangladesh. Dhaka is a densely populated city in the world. In a high, thin voice she recalls how Golam was an energetic, devious child, always in trouble. Bangladesh’s hidden climate costs ‘We are not able to build our houses again.’ Zakir Hossain Chowdhury Dhaka-based photojournalist covering social issues, climate change, and refugees. Her oldest daughter, 13, also does domestic work, while the 11-year-old stays home to care for the 6- and 9-year-olds. Mintu estimates that the high tide is rising by one foot per year on average, and that one-third of the village’s farmable acres have been rendered useless by salinity. IOM noted clinic visits dropped by 50% in March. Interviews with dozens of migrant families, scientists, urban planners, human rights advocates, and government officials across Bangladesh reveal that while the country is keenly aware of its vulnerability to climate change, not enough has been done to match the pace and scale of the resultant displacement and urbanization, toppling any prospect of a humane life for one of the world’s largest populations of climate migrants. When Bangladesh gained independence in 1971, the population was 91 percent rural. The city holds 47,500 people per square kilometer, nearly twice the population density of Manhattan. The investments appear to be paying off. Affordable housing, and public transit connecting the city center to suburbs as is common in megacities in India and China, were never priorities. A second storm several years later took their next house. “Because of salinity and flooding, there’s not much opportunity in my village. “But with climate change, many of the damages are permanent. (NY Times). He was too young to remember the wind ripping out his father’s fruit trees, floodwaters carrying off tea and rice from the family’s small shop, the mud walls crumbling, him taking shelter with his mother in a neighbor’s house and then, when that too washed away, falling into an empty grave as they ran from the raging riverbank in the dark. Outside the shed’s open doorway, in the outskirts of Dhaka, the sprawling megacity capital of Bangladesh, is the brick factory where Golam and his neighbors work for fifteen hours a day, seven days a week, at least six months a year. But they’re moving too slowly to help many people like Golam, who survived a series of catastrophic storms only to find that migration was the only viable path remaining. The NY Times reports it’s too soon to know what role climate change plays but Bangladesh has already seen a pattern of more severe and frequent floods stemming from the Brahmaputra River, and scientists expect things to only get worse in the years ahead. Those who become homeless due to climate changes are called climate refugees. And as climate change drives the migration of up to 200 million people worldwide by 2050, Dhaka offers a cautionary tale for refuge cities around the globe. But here, I can make good money,” he says. The family lives in fear that their house—on a tiny wedge rented from the village—will again wash away. “It’s just that everything is in Dhaka, and people are all coming to Dhaka. Climate change is disrupting traditional rain patterns—droughts in some areas, unexpected deluges in others—and boosting silt-heavy runoff from glaciers in the Himalaya Mountains upstream, leading to an increase in flooding and riverbank erosion. Each has just enough space to lie flat. Au Bangladesh, les habitants plaisantent parfois en disant que la solitude n’existe pas. Already, up to 400,000 low-income migrants arrive in Dhaka every year. The damages linger long after. “Dhaka is filled with people who fled their village because it was swallowed by the sea or the rivers,” Huq says. Families are fragmented, children grow up without fathers, and lifelong neighbors turn against one another over land. Most electricity, when it’s working at all, is tapped illegally from the grid. “If we had the land still, if the salinity was less, our sons could have managed to stay,” she says. We are focusing on the affected people and their stories. An aerial view of Bangladesh’s countryside Both families are now climate migrants. According to the International Organization for Migration, up to seventy percent of the slums’ residents moved there due to environmental challenges. “People used to have to leave Mongla to find work. “There’s no way to stop people coming to Dhaka unless we can attract them to other places,” Huq says. So far, local officials have invested in two flood-control gates; a freshwater treatment and distribution system that Alauddin says has increased the number of houses with running water from one-third of the city’s total to one-half; eleven kilometers of pedestrian-friendly riverside brick pathways; two dozen closed-circuit security cameras; a citywide loudspeaker system that can announce inclement weather and broadcast motivational pop music; and four thousand shade trees. He dresses in gym shorts and t-shirt by the light of a single dangling bulb. Slums emerge unplanned and unsanctioned in the backyards of glassy skyscrapers, straddling railroad tracks, on stilts above water-logged floodplains, on the fringes of construction sites. Bangladesh holds 165 million people in an area smaller than Illinois. That time, Khatun was able to dispatch a few older boys from the neighborhood to rescue him. Waist-high rows of drying bricks spiral off from a towering kiln that belches smoke over an area the size of a city block. “But my life is my childrens’ life. “Because of salinity and flooding, there’s not much opportunity in my village. Many of the country’s leading public policy experts think that attitude—that climate migrants are a regrettable burden—is short-sighted. “The coming millions will be impossible to absorb.”. The evening air swims with mosquitoes. Empowering the refugees through raising their voice. She crouches against the exterior wall of the house wrapped in a purple sari with yellow flowers, her arms shimmering in silvery bracelets, shooing away a nosy chicken. Climate exile is becoming a reality, on a scale beyond what most people are aware of. migrants (sometimes called “climate refugees”)—the most widely repeated prediction being 200 million by 2050. Sewage runs freely. “It makes an emptiness in the heart of the village.”. Single beds are frequently shared by five or more family members. Two of her sons migrated to Dhaka after the family home was destroyed by storms multiple times and agricultural jobs were lost due to salinity intrusion. Overall, the number of Bangladeshis displaced by the varied impacts of climate change could reach 13.3 million by 2050, making it the country’s number-one driver of internal migration, according to a March 2018 World Bank report. “When we lost the house, we ran out of options.”. “In my childhood, no one used to come out here for work,” he says. Government estimates and satellite data reveal as much as 24 to 37 percent of the country is submerged, a million homes impacted, 4.7 million people affected and 54 people have died, mostly children, in rains that are expected to continue through the middle of August. Structure fires spread easily. Dhaka as well as local urban centers are mostly the destination of migration caused by climate change. Now they’re coming to work in industry, and staying because of the good living conditions.”. At Golam’s family home in Gabura, two low wooden buildings frame a courtyard that opens onto a constellation of rectangular shrimp ponds stretching to the horizon. Extreme climate events like floods, cyclones and tidal surges, as well as gradual impacts of climate change like salinity or river erosion, cause climate induced migration. Insect infestations are inescapable. “It’s very hard to get a living here,” Begum says. Home feels very far away. “But now, from my village, nearly every family sends at least one person.”. 1 talking about this. Immediately behind it is a crumbling ten-foot embankment, no more than three feet across, paved with the same gray bricks that Golam and men from every family here labor far from home to produce. Three key terms are important in the context of migration and environmental and climatic changes: 1. And Dhaka is collapsing.”. The average American is responsible for 33 times more planet-warming carbon dioxide than the average Bangladeshi.”, From Vanuatu sinking into the Pacific and drought in the Horn of Africa, inequity is the focus, when taking into account the world’s richest 10 percent are responsible for 40 percent of the global environmental damage, while the poorest 10 percent account for less than 5 percent. Forty percent of the city’s residents live in slums like this, hundreds of which are spread across the city. Cyclone Amphan tore across Bangladesh… For tens of thousands of years, people living in the vast Ganges Delta accepted a volatile, dangerous landscape of floods and tropical storms as the cost of access to rich agricultural soil and lucrative maritime trade routes. For climate migrants who arrive in Dhaka, life is seldom easy. Parts of the embankment resemble ghost towns, lined with boarded-up shops. At the same time, salinity has poisoned the job market as much as it has the water and soil: Many wealthier farmers have converted their rice paddies—a reliable opportunity for paid labor—into salt-tolerant shrimp ponds, which essentially care for themselves.