Bangladesh

Bangladesh Case Study Report | Map Viewer | Download the Map

Bangladesh has become the centre of global attention in recent years for two major reasons: firstly, the global community has recognized it as one of the most vulnerable countries to rainfall variability, and as a `hotspot´ for future impacts of climate change (IPCC, 2007; Huq and Ayers, 2007; Worldbank 2010).  Secondly, the global community has acknowledged the country’s efforts in addressing abject poverty, high population density, and high vulnerability to various environmental risks. Rainfalls research in Bangladesh was implemented in Kurigram district, in the northwest part of Bangladesh. The livelihoods of the majority of Kurigram’s population are still dependent on primarily rain-fed agriculture, and the region is known for its seasonal food insecurity and high incidence of poverty (Rahman, 1995; WFP/GoB, 2004; Zug, 2006; Selvaraju et al., 2006; CARE, 2009). Numerous major rivers crisscross the floodplain where Kurigram is located, resulting in a large number of char islands. In addition, since Kurigram is an area already susceptible to flood and riverbank erosion, its sensitivity to climate variability and change is likely to be very high. The analysis reveals that the study area has been experiencing a gradual decrease in monsoon rainfall, along with changes in microstructure of rainfall patterns. The monsoon has been showing a shift from more steady rains with a single peak of the absolute amount to a bimodal distribution of rainfall with a significant dry period in between. The rainfall episode that occurs in October, the so-called ‘Kaitan Satao,’ is apparently weakening.  Since rainfall plays a significant role for the livelihoods of poor people, such changes disturb the seasonal production cycle and threaten their livelihood security. Two major livelihood groups are particularly affected. Poor farmers with small land holdings find it difficult to cope with the changes in rainfall patterns as their food production is declining, which increases their food insecurity. Similarly, the already weakened livelihoods of fishermen are facing an additional challenge due to changes in rainfall and flooding. The people in Kurigram District perceive climatic changes as severe risks to their livelihoods and their food security. Advancements in the rice-based agricultural production system have been achieved in the northwest of Bangladesh. They were complemented by governmental support in the forms of food and employment programmes. Moreover, many poor households migrate in order to secure their access to food over the course of the year. Nevertheless, food insecurity remains one of the most pressing problems in the region. Climate change and rainfall variability are an additional burden for the food security of the rural population–especially for the poor and for women.

© 2007 Bill Dowell/CARE

© 2008 Josh Estey/CARE