17th SAARC summit should make a bridge to face climate change

| by Swadesh Roy

(November 09, Dhaka, Sri Lanka Guardian)` I had five houses but only one is left, all are destroyed by cyclone Ayla. We were not poor, we had everything but now we are street beggar. It happened within a few seconds. Water flows up to the eight feet over the embankment. Now it looks like sea. In every tide saline water flows over the land so we have no way to grow here anything. How shall we get food, shelter and education now? Some people are going to Dhaka and other city but we cannot dare to do this, ultimately we have no choice. We have to leave this place.’ It is a statement of an Ayla victim,(in khulna, the shouthern part of Bangladesh) to London Guardian. They are waiting to leave this place. But it is true that 200 thousand people already migrated this area.
All the South Asian countries are facing the effect of climate change. Though Bangladesh is the most vulnerable of them but the 17th SAARC host country, the Maldives is not any less vulnerable to Bangladesh. Sri Lanka is also in same condition. So we hope that the Prime Minister of Bangladesh Sheikh Hasina and the host country, the Maldives’ president will take a lead to make a bridge to face the climate change.
People of Bangladesh are already living with this type of climate change effect. Bangladesh is trapped between the Himalayas in the north and the encroaching Bay of Bengal to the south. Bangladesh is the most vulnerable to natural disasters due to the frequency of extreme climate changes and its high population density. At 16th summit of South Asian Association of Regional Cooperation (SAARC), noble laureate and the chairperson of international panel of climate change, Dr. Rajendra Kumar Pachaur said that the summit would provide an opportunity for SAARC countries to discuss common problems related to climate change that will affect all the countries of SAARC. However, the slogan of the 17th SAARC summit of the Maldives is `Building Bridge’ but effect of the climate change should be the main focus and SAARC countries should build bridge to face the effect of climate change. All the eight countries of the SAARC are facing the effect of climate change. Bangladesh is facing internal migration of the people. Climate change has affected the agriculture, so every day large number of people are migrating from village to capital and they are living a totally unhygienic life. They have no facility of sanitation and drinking water. World Bank study says in near future 700 million people of India will migrate to urban areas due to impact of the climate change on agriculture.
17th SAARC summit is holding in the Maldives. Government scientists of the Maldives fear, the sea might rise up to 0.9cm a year since 80% of its 1,200 islands are no more than 1m above sea level. If world would not fight against climate change, with in 100 years the Maldives could become uninhabitable. The country’s 360,000 citizens would be forced to evacuate. In Kandholhudhoo of the Maldives, tidal surges flood their homes every fortnight.
Sri Lanka is also a vulnerable country to the effect of climate change. Once it used to say that, climate change effect in Sri Lanka is more dangerous than civil war. A major part of Jaffna and other northern areas of Sri Lanka will be submerged when sea level rises. Climate change in Sri Lanka will have dire consequence on water, agriculture, health and the coast. Already there are early signs of impact, which would assume serious proportion by 2025.
According to Oxfam report world wormer and the Himalayan, glaciers could affect 500 million people in South Asia. Melting glaciers, rising sea level, changing rainfall pattern and scarcity of drinking water will affect these areas. Like Bangladesh, rural Nepalese are already living in poverty due to this effect, winter wheat has been failed due to warmer climate. Indian wheat is also facing that problem. Nepal, Bhutan and the Himalayan mountainous region are a few of the most vulnerable areas in the world to climate change. The Himalayan glaciers and warmer climate will affect them. Pakistan has suffered from a dangerous flood for a long time.
Thus all the South Asian countries are facing the effect of climate change. Though Bangladesh is the most vulnerable of them but the 17th SAARC host country, the Maldives is not any less vulnerable to Bangladesh. Sri Lanka is also in same condition. So we hope that the Prime Minister of Bangladesh Sheikh Hasina and the host country, the Maldives’ president will take a lead to make a bridge to face the climate change. On the other hand, other affected countries, Sri Lanka, India, Nepal, Bhutan, Pakistan and Afghanistan will also help to make this bridge. The richest country, USA is the observer of SAARC now. Their representative is joining the summit. They have a duty to fight together with the worst climate affected countries like Bangladesh, the Maldives, Sri Lanka and others.
Swadesh Roy, Executive Editor, The Daily Janakantha, Dhaka, Bangladesh. swadeshroy@gmail.com
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Author: Sri Lanka Guardian

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