2 months ago

Plight of climate victims knows no bounds

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Thousands of people lose their homes in the country every year due to river erosion.

Besides, many hectares of land are crumbled into the rivers in the country. The land erosion escalates mainly during the monsoon (June to October).

As many as 0.3 million families are living in the 165 char areas (river shoals) of Gaibandha district, according to the district administration.

One of the climate victims of the area, Jaigun Begum, 45, said, "We don't know how long we, the climate-affected people in char regions, will have to face tribulations caused by the river erosion."

She is now residing at Horipur under Sundarganj Upazila in Gaibandha. Her sanitation facilities were destroyed by the erosion.

Women, children and differently-able people in her locality go through endless sufferings during persistent floods.

Lamenting it, she said, "We have been facing the disasters for so long."

According to Jaigun, they suffer from malnutrition as food and medicine are not always available there.

On March 21, South Asian Climate Change Journalists Forum (SACCJF) in association with Gana Unnayan Kendra (GUK), a development organisation, organised a public hearing on climate change at Kunderpara Char in Gaibandha Sadar with the climate victims.

State Minister for Disaster Management and Relief Md Enamur Rahman attended the event as the chief guest.

At the char on the bank of the Brahmaputra River, a total of 13 climate-affected people from Kurigram, Lalmonirhat and Gaibandha shared the horrific impact of the disaster on their lives and livelihood.

The organisers claimed that this is the first event in Bangladesh to listen to the people of climate victims in the char area.

A sexagenarian, Badsha Mia, resident of Haripur Union under Sundarganj Upazila of Gaibandha, said that he and his family members were victims of river erosion seven times so far.

He struggled a lot to manage a decent job to survive with his family members. Meanwhile, he lost the strength of his both legs in an accident at his workplace.

Sitting on a wheelchair, Badshah Mia said, "You come to us with relief goods during the disasters, but you don't see our hardship throughout the year".

None understands the sufferings of us throughout the year due to river erosion, Badsha Mia added.

Ainun Nishat, water resource and climate change specialist, spoke at the hearing while SACCJF president Asish Gupta and development worker Professor Zahirul Qayyum, were also present.

Ainun Nishat said more than 15 million people in char areas across the country remain at serious risk due to the climate change.

The main responsibility for climate change rests with the developed world, Nishat said.

"We need to speak up for the people who are bearing the brunt of climate change. We need to address the loss and damage of the people and convince the Western countries to reduce environmental pollution," he added.

Jaigun Begum also said that the women in the erosion area are the worst sufferers.

No one understands their consistent grief, she said, adding that girls in disaster-prone areas are prevented from going to school. They have problems during puberty.

She further said, "Sometimes they are sexually harassed when they take shelters leaving their houses during the flood."

People with disabilities experience extreme pain and sufferings. Young people look older due to lack of nutrition, Jaigun lamented.

No outsider can even imagine what kind of pain and pangs one has to suffer in the char region during pregnancy, she added.

She also said, "We heard that sudden floods, river erosion are occurring continuously due to climate change."

Terming that rich countries are responsible for the climate-related disasters, she urged the government to tell those countries to hear their stories of suffering.

Mosharraf Hossain, resident of Hatibandha of Lalmonirhat, said hailstorms are destroying crops, killing animals and people.

Lucky Begum from Phulchari Upazila of Gaibandha, broke down in tears while talking about the sufferings she had during the floods in 2019.

An unexpected and sudden flood occurred in 2019 in the area. She had sought help from neighbours as her husband was away at his job.

Begum said, "What was my state of mind at that time, I can't explain it. You won't understand that."

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