Published: May 19th 2009May 19th 2009
The remains of a washed out village
One of our program officers gestures across an empty field, beyond which lies the stretch of houses that was left after the villaged washed out 2 years ago. Behind him is the river that now runs over what was once the majority of the village. Most wash out victims end up moving in with relatives in neighboring villages. The less fortunate move to Dhaka to try to eek out an existence, or end up in government build resettlement camps--often just rows of tin shacks isolated from roads, jobs and schools.
Today I caught a special on Al Jazeera's "101 East" program--a feature dedicated to investigating the issue of climate refugees and whether more developed nations have a responsibility to those who are displaced by the effects of climate change. The narrative follows a man from the southern coast of Bangladesh--a man who, like the people we met last week in Bhola, has lost everything he owned after his village was washed out. There is now a river where his house once stood. In light of my last blog and the week that Parendi and I spent tracking down "washed out villagers" I thought this was particularly good timing. The program asks some interesting questions, and also shows some footage from Bangladesh (both the coastal region, where villages are washing away every year, and from Dhaka, where climate refugees are migrating by the thousands) that I think might complement the few words I wrote. I highly recommend you look up the feature online (unfortunately my internet/computer is too slow to download videos here, so I can't post a direct link). I gather that if you google "Al Jazeera 101 East Climate Refugees" you'll produce some links to websites that host the video--possibly in two parts. If you have the time, take a look. It's a bit mind blowing to consider that Dhaka (as crowded as it is) is one of the fastest growing cities in the world, and is only going to get more crowded as families seek refuge and job opportunities.