Climate change influencing migration flows in Bangladesh: IOM

Climate change and natural hazards are influencing migration flows in South Asian countries, the International Organization for Migration (IOM) says after conducting a study in Bangladesh, Nepal and the Maldives.

Published : 15 Jan 2017, 04:08 PM
Updated : 15 Jan 2017, 04:08 PM

It says natural hazards, aggravated by climate change like floods, storm surges, droughts, cyclones and heavy precipitation, have played “a crucial role” behind the increasing migration flows of South Asia over the past years.

It has brought to light the fact that climate change and environmental degradation will further contribute to the movement of people living in the region.

The study also indicates that the countries have experienced variations in temperature and rainfall in recent decades. Sudden and slow onset climatic events often affect the lives and livelihoods of vulnerable people across the three countries.

The countries have been selected for the research project as within the region they are considered as highly vulnerable to climate change impacts, given their unique geographical characteristics, the IOM says.

Environmental degradation including pollution of surface water, ground water, deforestation, freshwater scarcity, and declining ground water levels are also affecting the three countries.

Other natural disaster like earthquakes, landslides, tsunamis, epidemics and non-climatic factors, including poverty and population density, may contribute to affecting lives and livelihoods of vulnerable people and displacing thousands of people every year across the three countries.

Climate change and environmental degradation severely affect South Asia, with its tangible impact on human mobility being apparent over the last few decades.

The Internal Displacement Monitoring Centre (IDMC) estimates that 7.9 million people were displaced in 2015 due to sudden onset disasters in the region, accounting for 36 percent of the estimated total global displacement.

In order to assess the climate change, environmental degradation and migration nexus in South Asia, IOM commissioned a research study in Bangladesh, Maldives and Nepal to establish the evidence base and raise awareness on the subject.

In Bangladesh, the research was carried out in Khulna for its vulnerability to cyclone, salinity intrusion and sea level rise, Rajshahi as the area is prone to droughts and arsenic contamination, Sunamganj because of its susceptibility to flash floods and Patuakhali for being affected by cyclone, storm surge and sea level rise.

Increased temperature and variations in rainfall are the two most common climate change elements that have affected the lives and livelihoods of people in Bangladesh in recent years, revealed the study findings.

The coastal districts of the country are very vulnerable to cyclones, storm surges, tidal floods, salinity intrusion and sea level rise.

On the other hand, in the north and north east of Bangladesh, drought, flash floods and riverine floods have made people’s lives difficult.

Through the project, IOM said, it has been contributing to national and regional policies of the countries to address the expected impacts of climate change and environmental degradation on migration and displacement.

The project also produced a draft regional strategy framework and model Plans of Actions (POAs).