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Part 4: Stories on the impact of climate change on Bangladeshi peoples

Winter has finally arrived in Australia and it’s cold. Most of us have long forgotten the unusually warm autumn days that hit much of the country – just over a month ago -in May.

The Climate Council has called the autumn just gone – abnormal. Analysis by the Climate Council reveals that in May:

  • Sydney had 19 consecutive days above 22 degrees;
  • Melbourne, a record 13 days in a row above 20 degrees;
  • Adelaide a record of 16 days above 20 degrees;

Overall the influence of climate change was felt with temperatures being 1.16 degrees above the overall long term average and with the 24-month period ending April 2014 being the hottest two-year period on record.

Bangladesh is a country that is significantly impacted by climate change, even though like many developing countries they did little to cause it. Each month this column will bring the story about how a changing climate has impacted on people and their communities across Bangladesh. The stories are told in the voices of the people affected. This week’s story is Receding Water Table it comes from a report titled Wither Happiness by Sirajul Islam Abed (2011).

Noorbanu is a 35 year old female farmer who lives in Mithapukur, Rangpur, in the North West of Bangladesh. Here general soil fertility is poor. The rainfall pattern has changed and the temperature has increased in both the monsoon and winter seasons. There is less moisture and an increase in water evaporation.  Both drought and heatwaves occur which has led to decrease crop production, scarcity of drinking water, new diseases and with increased temperatures more areas under drought.

Noorbanu says:

“We used to be sharecroppers in the past and it went well, but now we cultivate our own land. Yet, we cannot make enough profits. This is because the production cost has gone up more than before. Earlier, it rained in time and the weather was not so hot as it is now. Now, nothing is regular and timely. The rainfall is erratic, while cold is sometimes too much and sometimes hot and the temperature is also too high at times. It was also difficult to irrigate land, and finally we failed to provide adequate irrigation.

Now the most difficult task for me is irrigating the land during the dry season. Day by day underground water level has gone deeper down. Tube wells fail to get any water from. Earlier we would set up a shallow tube well machine easily. Now we have to dig a pit several feet below the ground and then set it up so that the pipe gets water. This became a matter of serious trouble. Besides, more irrigation is required for the paddy field.

There are some fruit trees, which bear fruits like lychees, mango and jackfruits, but finally the fruits do not grow to size as in the past. Now, we are interested in growing crops requiring less water. For example I prefer producing maize, wheat, ladies fingers, chilli and vegetables.”

About The Author

Kelly Dent heads Oxfam Australia’s Economic Justice team, which covers climate change, food security, land, trade and corporate accountability. She is a life adventurer who has spent almost a decade living in and working in developing countries, including Sri Lanka, Indonesia and South Africa. Kelly is also a yoga teacher who cycles, and likes to grow vegetables. She enjoys writing about everything.
Winter has finally arrived in Australia and it’s cold. Most of us have long forgotten the unusually warm autumn days that hit much of the country – just over a month ago -in May. The Climate Council has called the autumn just gone – abnormal. Analysis by the reveals that in May: Sydney had 19 consecutive days above 22 degrees; Melbourne, a record 13 days in a row above 20 degrees; Adelaide a record of 16 days above 20 degrees; Overall the influence of climate change was felt with temperatures being 1.16 degrees above the overall long term…

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