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Faridy, M, 2010 –– Impact of climate change on water resources in Bangladesh

M. Faridy (Bangladesh)

Faridi Master of Integrated Water Management studentBangladesh is one of the low-lying, riverine countries in South-east Asian region with a more irregular coastline of about 750 km on the north of the Bay of Bengal. The physical geography of the country is characterised by two different features-a wide deltaic plain subject to frequent flooding and a tiny hilly region crossed by quickly flowing rivers. Due to geographical setting, Bangladesh has received and drained-out huge volume of upstream waters.

The flows of mighty rivers the Meghna, Padma (the Ganges) and Brahmaputra, originated from the Himalayans, drain-out in the Bay of Bengal flowing throughout the country. Because of geographical location, Bangladesh is one of the most disaster prone countries in the world.

Many places in the world will face the range of effects and severity of changes due to climate variability. Bangladesh is one of the most vulnerable countries where the potential impacts of climate change will affect all parts of the society and economy. Impacts of climate change on water resources of Bangladesh are assumed to be one of the potential problems especially for coastal areas.

These impacts will decrease water availability and increase natural hazards like cyclone, storm surges and coastal flooding. It will increase coastal and riverine flooding and enhance possibility of drought in dry season in certain areas. The National Water Management Plan (NWMP) of Bangladesh has stated that net sea level rise will be of 4.5 to 23 cm in 2025 and 6.5 to 44 cm by 2050 whereas the tidal range has been increased to 4.8 m from 1.8 in 1960 in the south west region of the country. Both sea level rise and increased tidal range altogether will have a greater adverse impact on the coastal areas.

According to the fourth assessment of IPCC working group II, in the coastal areas of Bangladesh, the salinity level of ground water as well as surface water resources are increasing rapidly due to sea level rise as a direct impact of climate change. According to Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) (2007a), rising sea levels will wipe out 17% of Bangladeshi coastal territory by 2050 which will displace approximately 20 million people out of total 155 million of the country.  

In Bangladesh, a range of research works have been done to detect the impact of climate change on water resources. However, no works have been done so far about the impact of climate change on the water resources of the study area. It is also observed that a very few Climate Change related projects either implemented by GO or NGOs have included local people as focal investigator.

However, it is thought that local people are the best assessor to find out the challenges and different alternatives to solve these challenges. Therefore, the main objectives of the research are to involve the local people for identifying the impacts of climate change on the water resources of the study area and to expose different alternatives to lessen the intensity of these impacts.   

Adaptation program must be set based on the needs of the people who are highly affected by climate change impacts. The ultimate aim of the program is to secure livelihood of the most vulnerable people and try to reduce the most significant hazards they face. A good adaptation strategy will give the highest priority to the needs of the local communities, valuing their knowledge. For implementing any adaptation program it is very important to know the intensity of the problem and their probable solutions.

The local people have the best knowledge about the severity of the problems as they are the prime victim of any climate change event. Participatory Research (PR) can be the best option which gives highest priority to the local communities to find out the sustainable solution using their knowledge. Among all PR methods Participatory Rural Appraisal (PRA) a process which extensively use local knowledge for analysing their lives and conditions before planning and implementing any development activities. Therefore, PRA method is used in this research for a successful involvement of the local people to get the best outcome.

The project will investigate how the water resources of Bangladesh coastal areas are affected due to changing climatic condition of the world. South Khali Union, one of the southern unions of Bangladesh, has been taken as a case study for the project.

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