Allocate resources fairly in coastal areas
Speakers say at a discussion on findings of a study on life, livelihoods of coastal people
FE Report | February 18, 2019 00:00:00

Fair allocations of resources in coastal areas are absent in the development process and local-level interventions by public and private sectors, speakers said at a programme on Saturday.

The Coastal Zone Policy 2005 is still not implemented and streamlined with the climate change adaptation and development planning, they added.

This is a real problem as the coastal issues are not reflected properly in the whole development paradigm, the speakers told the event.

The government has not considered the vulnerability of coastal regions like mangrove forests and other issues of the indigenous coastal people when they undertook several infrastructure projects.

The observations were made at a discussion on the findings of a study on the life and livelihoods of the coastal people.

Change Initiative, a research organisation, organised the discussion at its office in the capital.

The Nationwide Climate Vulnerability Assessment in Bangladesh of environment ministry published in 2018 showed salinity intrusion is increasing abruptly in the coastal zone, which is one-twelfth of the total land.

It will reach one-tenth by 2035 and one-eighth by 2070.

The study also said low-lying areas in the coastal region here are highly vulnerable to cyclones and storm surges, which can have devastating social and economic impacts.

Historical analysis shows tropical cyclone frequency has decreased in the past decades, yet the intensity has increased as the spatial position of the maximum intensity of cyclones has moved towards the East Asian coastline.

Further, the Cyclones are often followed by devastating storm surges, the assessment report added.

Climate change expert M Zakir Hossain said the coastal region covers about 20 per cent of the total land area and over 30 per cent of cultivable land.

It includes highly diverse ecosystems, including the world’s largest single tract of mangroves (the Sundarbans), beaches, coral reefs, dunes and wetlands.

With its dynamic natural environments, it provides a range of goods and services to the peoples of Bangladesh, he added.

About 26 per cent of the households were damaged in the cyclones and tornados between 2009 and 2014.

It means whenever they become slightly settled after a disaster, they are hit by another natural calamity as frequency and intensity of disasters have increased.

Of the affected groups in coastal zones, the people of Barishal region are most affected which is 79 per cent followed by Chittagong 32 per cent, Mr Hossain added.

It is evident that the frequency of cyclones has increased as only six cyclones hit between 1991 and 2006. But there were five cyclones like Sidr (2007), Aila (2009), Mohasen (2013), Komen (2015), and Ruanu (2016) over the last decade.

“The economic value of the Sundarbans in terms of storm protection and ecosystem services are not considered when the authorities approve industries in that side. It means policy there is a fundamental gap at the policy level in terms of management of the coastal life and livelihoods,” Mr Hossain said.

He further said that a major aspect of sustainable development is equitable governance.

Whatever resources are allocated or utilised, or any other intervention is made, equity and justice have to be ensured which is absent now, he added.

The resource allocation must be through a vulnerability assessment, the environmentalist cited.

In his presentation, Coastal Journalist Network president Rafiqul Islam Montu highlighted various problems of the coastal people based on a field study.

He said their major socio-economic risks are decreased in the land, reduction in individual property, increase in natural disasters, lack of good governance, increase in population, displacement of people, climate change, lack of civic services and communication network.

Mr Montu identified several reasons for such problems, including lack of missing information at every level, lack of monitoring by the government, absence of coordinated and sustainable development plan, corruption in public service delivery and non-implementation of laws and policies.

Published at – The Financial Express on 18 February 2019 

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