Feature: Bangladesh's Padma river devours villagers' homesteads amid evolving climate change

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DHAKA, Sept. 22 (Xinhua) -- Every year, many people living by the hundreds of rivers in Bangladesh would fall victim to river erosion and flood.

The South Asian country is sitting on a massive river delta, but in recent years natural disasters like flood induced by extreme weathers owing to climate change have caused faster than usual river erosion in the country of 165 million population.

Residents of a village in Munshiganj district have lived amid worries over the last couple of months, since the Padma river took a sharp turn at the start of this monsoon season, and continued to devour most of the homesteads and vast croplands there.

Ali Miah Sayal, a river erosion victim in Sodha Kandi village of the Banglabazar Union in Munshiganj district, told Xinhua that "parts of this village have been eroded to such an extent that we cannot even imagine."

He said there were 150 houses in the village. "We, 150 families, are now living in different places. I can't find who leave and where their houses are following the river erosion."

Pointing at a point of the river, he said his home was previously located at that place of the river. "I reared ducks, cocks, cows, pigeons, and goats. My beautiful houses were broken. The river has taken everything," said the man.

"Now I'm a street beggar. I relocated my broken houses to an empty space. Now I don't know how to start anew," he added.

Shibrani, another villager of Sodha Kandi, said her house has been taken away because of the river erosion.

"We're very helpless now. We're now sheltering in another person's house," she said, adding that a big Hindu festival celebration will come next month, but they are not happy.

"The river has broken and taken away all our happiness," she said.

"We've made idols (to be worshipped during the festival), but how shall we rejoice?" said villager Saraswati, whose house is on the verge of collapse. "If another house is broken in front of mine, my house will be also broken. I'm in fear, I'm worried. I've been sick twice with worry," said the middle-aged woman who walks with the support of a stick.

"Our sources of income are cut off," she added.

Md Sohrab Hossain Pir, chairman of the local Banglabazar area, in describing the miserable situation of villagers' life after the river erosion, said, "There are mosques, schools, madrasas (educational institutions), orphanages, places of worship, temples. All are on the verge of collapse."

Now the authorities are dumping sandbags in taking precautions, he said.

"Everyone in this area is suffering due to the erosion of this river," he said, and called for help from the international community.

"People of my area will get at least a little comfort if they get some assistance from world community or developed countries," he said, noting the recent river erosion has created plights for thousands, leaving them homeless and driving them to gobble up everything from their farmlands.

In a recent assessment, the Bangladesh Center for Environmental and Geographic Information Services (CEGIS), a government research center, said that at least 17 areas across 12 districts are at risk of completely being wiped off in the season by the mighty rivers of Padma, Meghna and Jamuna, and their adjoining rivers.

Following the devastating June-July floods this year, around 974 homesteads were reportedly devoured by the Jamuna river in the Sirajganj district, 134 km northwest of the capital Dhaka.

Bangladesh's State Minister for Disaster Management and Relief Md Enamur Rahman earlier told journalists that government and private agencies have been working together in the flood-affected Sylhet region, which is faced with its worst situation in more than 120 years.

Early effects of climate change already visible in Bangladesh have alarmed the experts.

The World Bank said in a report last year that Bangladesh will have more than 19 million internal climate refugees by 2050, representing almost half of the projected number for the entire South Asia region.

Bangladesh has for long time called on developed countries, who were the largest emitters of greenhouse gases and contributed most to global warming, to pay compensation to poorer nations for the loss and damage incurred through climate change.

From 2020 to 2022, Bangladesh presides over the Climate Vulnerable Forum (CVF), a global partnership of countries that are most vulnerable to climate change, for the second time. Under its leadership, the forum has been striving to influence global climate change policy and financial architecture, so as to protect vulnerable nations. Enditem

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