Probal Rashid‘s photographs from ‘Climate Crisis In Bangladesh’ take us onto the flood plains of the Ganges Delta and its distributaries that flow into the Bay of Bengal. His pictures graphically depicting the devastation wrought upon the people that live there, the rural people of the Indian sub-continent who, every year, are faced with a life and death situation which is only being exasperated by the changes in the climate due to human consumption and our burning of fossil fuels.
The vast majority of this poor country is only 10m above sea level and is at severe risk of flooding during the monsoon season between June and September. And while the Government has built some permanent defences, strengthened with reinforced concrete, the vast majority of flood embankments are composed of soil made by local farmers. This cyclical problem, made worse by the increased meltwater from the Himalayas, has created a situation that is only getting worse. Every year over 26,000 km2 is flooded, killing over 5,000 people and destroying more than seven million homes. If there is severe flooding the affected areas exceed over 75% of the country.
Bangladesh is a developing country and, with a growing population and an economy that is closely linked to agriculture, it’s in serious crisis. Every year it’s the poorest citizens that lose their properties, their livelihoods. Their lives. It’s an unmitigated disaster that is only getting worse as we, warm and safe in our western media saturated world, ignore, forget, the plight of our fellow human beings who suffer great tragedy on a daily basis – a catastrophe that befalls those who are least responsible for the rise of global warming, yet experience the worst of its escalating effects – as they struggle to make their way through the world. A world that is increasingly driven by capitalism and its voracious need for cheap materials, labour and de-regulation. A materialistic system which directly affects affects the people of Bangladesh.
In Rahid’s photographs we are not spared. His pictures are frank, to the point, highlight the grave situation in his homeland and serve to remind us that we must be more cognisant of our own behaviour, that everything we do affects those less fortunate than us. Here’s what he has to say about his photographs:
Bangladesh is one of the countries most vulnerable to the effects of climate change. The regular and severe natural hazards that Bangladesh already suffers from – tropical cyclones, river erosion, flood, landslides and drought – are all set to increase in intensity and frequency as a result of climate change. Sea level rise will increasingly inundate coastal land in Bangladesh and dramatic coastal and river erosion will destroy lands and homes. These and the many other adverse effects of climate change will severely impact the economy and development of the country.
One of the most dramatic impacts will be the forced movement of people throughout Bangladesh as a result of losing their homes, lands, property and livelihoods to the effects of climate change. While it is impossible to predict completely accurate figures of how many people will be displaced by climate change, the best current estimates state that sea level rise alone will displace 18 million Bangladeshi’s within the next 40 years. The vast majority of these people will be displaced within Bangladesh – not across international borders – presenting the Government with enormous challenges, particularly when it comes to finding places to live and work for those displaced.