Dhaka, an enclosed coastal megacity of the Bay of Bengal, with an average altitude of four meters above sea level, is regularly impacted by tropical cyclones and flooding, and has a very low capacity to adapt to climate change. Increased migrants from the highly populated coastal zones suffering from geo-hydro-meteorological disasters like erosion, floods and tidal surges, cyclones and tornados, and salinity intrusion etc., a huge population has migrated to the capital city for their livelihoods and it is one of the fastest growing megacities in the world. The historical cyclones and tidal surges like the Bhola Cyclone-1970, Bangladesh Cyclone-1991, Cyclone Sidr -2007, Cyclone Nargis -2008 and Aila – 2009 killed and displaced millions of people. Millions of domestic and wild animals died; damage to crops, forests and plantations and structural properties like houses, roads and highways, embankments, transmission lines were huge, there were outbreaks of epidemics, water shortages etc., causing many people to become homeless and hungry and driving them in desperation to Dhaka for food and shelter. To meet up the demand of land of the growing population, the city has spread outwards in an uncontrolled manner with slums and has been ranked as the second most unlivable city in the World Livability Survey 2011 according to the Economist Intelligence Unit.
This 25 years study on the changes of coastal zones from Chittagong to Cox’s Bazar along the Bay of Bengal studied changes of water-flow and the flora and fauna of the estuaries of the Karnaphuli, Halda, Sangu and Matamuhuri rivers, which flow down from the adjacent Chittagong Hill Tracts (CHT) and Arakan Lusai Hills. The hydroelectric dam on the Karnafuli River damaged 700 km² of hill forests and caused mass migration of tribal people.
Human pressure, deforestation, pollution, upstream dams, flatland cultivation practices, shrimp culture and unplanned infrastructures cause major causes to the coastal zones and adjacent hills. Destruction of mangroves of Chokoria Sundarbans and Cox’s Bazar are the result of shrimp culture. About 91% of the perennial streams of the Chittagong and CHT have lost their dry season flows, resulting in a serious water crisis. Discharge of effluents from the shrimp hatcheries, digging of shrimp ponds and hill-cuttings have caused erosion. The sea current has already damaged 3.4km of sea shore from Kolatoti to Himchari in Cox’s Bazar. Continue reading
The fertile alluvial plain of the Ganges, Brahmaputra and Meghna rivers of Bangladesh and Eastern India is densely populated and very rich with diversified flora and fauna having specific association and adaptation. The river systems have provided great opportunities with fertile land, mangroves, biodiversity, scenic beauty, ports, industries, tourists’ spots, coastal resources, minerals and transportation. Evergreen and semi-deciduous forests, wetlands; estuaries of this tropic have wet and dry monsoons enriched with the biodiversity and scope for wide range adaptation. The rural home-based multidisciplinary farming is traditionally maintained for thousands of years. Homes are specially designed for all activities; having houses, cowshed, a pond, forest-grove and a garden, the basis of present “permaculture” worldwide. In Bangladesh, about 70% of 165 million people living in the rural areas are dependent on agriculture. Villagers are simple, warmhearted but hardworking; lead nice and coordinated organic life. Multiple and multi-storied cropping culture is being maintained traditionally according to their habit, habitats and adaptation to maximize production and land-use. Short-cycle biomass recycling is practiced to maintain the soil health. WWOOF Bangladesh provides scope for the volunteers and host-farmers, can share knowledge and create bondage of organic minds.
The paper was presented in the 17th IFOAM Organic World Congress and WWOOF International Conference in South Korea in September 26-October 1, 2011