Dhaka, Jan 5 (UNB/IPS) - Bangladesh, one of the most densely populated countries in the world, has long been witnessing an abnormal shift in its traditional six seasons due to changes in temperature, wind-flow and rainfall patterns, threatening the country’s future food security, according to local environment and weather experts.
They also said frequent natural disasters like flashfloods, cyclones, growing incidents of lightning strikes and landslides, induced by global warming are also causing huge losses to human lives and natural resources.
According to a recent report of Global Climate Risk Index 2019, Bangladesh is the seventh most-affected country in the world due to “extreme weather events” over the last 20 years from 1998 -2017.
The report also said 407 people died in Bangladesh in 2017 due to extreme weather-related events while the country suffered an economic loss of about USD 2,826.68 million during the same period.
Talking to UNB, M Abdul Mannan, a senior meteorologist at the Bangladesh Meteorological Department (BMD), said Bangladesh has been experiencing abnormal behaviour of the weather pattern over the recent few years with a change in length and duration of sessions. “We can’t now predict when a season will exactly start or end due to a freak behaviour of weather.”
For example, he said, “We felt less cold during December last year and the length of winter was very short that year. But we’re witnessing that mercury dropped in December this year, but the intensity of clod is not at the expected level. The winter season will be very short this year as well as we may see rise in temperature from mid-January. Usually, winter begins early December and ends on February 28 in Bangladesh.”
Besides, Mannan said, a depression was formed over the Southwest Bay and adjoining areas this month which is very unusual. “We’re supposed to experience such disturbance during pre-monsoon (March-April) period, but we didn’t face it at that time.”
He said the rainy season was very dry this year and its duration was short with inadequate rainfall, hampering paddy, jute and other crop cultivation. “The situation was so bad that the farmers in the country’s northern region had to cultivate paddy with groundwater for lack of rainwater during the rainy season. It’s very unusual behaviour of weather.”
Mannan also said several heatwaves swept the country during rainy season-–June, July and August–this year which also an unusual behaviour of weather. “We’re facing the growing number of cyclones, floods, lightning strikes and landslides as seasons in Bangladesh are shifting a bit arbitrarily,” he added.
According to BMD statistics, the lightning frequency is gradually rising in the country during pre-monsoon period since 1981 due to change in the thunderstorm formation area along with other causes like deforestation, climate variability and global warming.
“We’re observing greater number of fatal incidents of lightning in recent years due to global warming,” said.
Mannan said nearly 200 people were killed in lightning strikes this year and 270 in 2017.
Bangladesh’ noted environmental expert Dr Atiq Rahman said the country’s farmers are facing immense difficulties with the cultivation of various crops due to abnormal weather events.
Citing an example, he said, farmers face problem in rotting their jute plants for lack of rainwater while they cannot plant their paddy during the traditional monsoon period for lack of adequate rainfall.
Besides, Dr Atiq said, the winter is getting less biting one gradually but causing greater fogs. “Crops are being affected adversely with the increased fogs.”
He said disorders are now visible in the pattern of traditional seasons of Bangladesh due to the rise in temperature affecting the flowering periods of various other plants. “The overall uncertainty in crop production in Bangladesh is on the rise.”
Dr Atiq, executive director of the Bangladesh Centre for Advanced Studies, think warmer weather and climate change are causing more water evaporation from the land and ocean, increasing cumulonimbus cloud which is generating fatal lightning strikes in Bangladesh and its adjoining regions.
Another eminent climate expert Ainun Nishat thinks wind-flow and precipitation pattern always play a role in breeding of animals and plants. “The rise in temperature and changes in wind-flow and rainfall patterns ultimately lead to a disarray in the agricultural calendar that has long been followed by the farmers of the country. It’s also harming the food chain.”
Mentioning that rainy season comprises the cultivation and harvesting periods of the country’s major crops like paddy and jute, he said annual rainfall intensity has declined in the country over the last few years.
Dr Nishat, Professor Emeritus of BRAC University, said as the seal level is rising due to global warming as the annual rise in sea level in Bangladesh ranges between 6mm and 20mm. “It’ll have a serious impact on the country in the future as salinity will be increased.”
According to the annual report 2016 of BRAC, an international non-government organization based in Bangladesh, some 27 million people are “predicted to be at risk” of sea-level rise in Bangladesh by 2050.
It said two-thirds of the country’s land is less than five metres above sea level, and floods are increasingly destroying homes, croplands and damaging infrastructure.
Approximately 10,000 hectares of land is lost every year due to riverbank erosion, the port said.
It said agricultural land is shrinking by 1 percent annually while the population is growing by 1.2 percent. This is creating a rise in demand for food, while increasingly unpredictable weather conditions pose a growing challenge to farmers trying to meet those demands, the report added.
Note: This report is produced by United News of Bangladesh (UNB) and Inter Press Service (IPS).
Dhaka, Jan 5 (UNB) – The sweeping cold wave, accompanied by dense fog, is making the life harder for the residents of Panchagarh, Chuadanga and Chapainawabganj districts.
According to the Met office here, the mercury dropped below 6 degrees Celsius in recent days, making it hard for locals to move out, even during the daytime, as dense fog hides the sun reducing the visibility.
Elderly people and children are the worst sufferers, as the cold wave has hit them hard with various diseases.
Hospitals in the districts, known for their poor manpower and inadequate accommodations, are struggling to deal with the growing number of patients affected with cold-related diseases like diarrhoea, pneumonia and respiratory problem.
The country’s lowest temperature was recorded in Panchagarh over the last six days. This season’s lowest temperature was recorded 5.1 degrees Celsius at Tetulia in the district on December 31.
Many people are staying home due to the bone-chilling cold for lack of warm clothes.
Rahidul Islam, acting officer of Tetulia Met office, said the Met office recorded 5.9 degrees Celsius of temperature in the district on Friday morning which is the lowest in the country.
Suleman, a rickshaw-puller, said, “I couldn’t go out with my rickshaw for the last 5-6 days due to the shivering cold.”
Panchagarh municipality mayor Touhidul Islam said, “We’ve already distributed some warm clothes among the poor, but every day people are crowding here to receive warm clothes.”
Sabina Yasmin, the deputy commissioner of the district, said some 24,000 blankets have been distributed so far and a letter has been set to the ministry concerned seeking more blankets.
According to the Met office, a severe cold wave is sweeping Panchagarh district in Rangpur division, while a mild to moderate cold wave is sweeping Rajshahi and the rest parts of Rangpur and the regions of Tangail, Faridpur, Madaripur, Gopalganj, Satkhira, Jashore, Kushtia, Sreemangal, Bhola and Barishal, and it may continue for the next few days.
The Met office recorded 5.9 degrees Celsius of temperature in Panchagarh on Friday.
Huge patients are flocking to hospitals here every day to receive treatment for cold-related diseases.
“Some 50 patients affected with diarrhoea, pneumonia and asthma received treatment at Adhunik Hospital in Panchagrah in the last couple of days,” Dr Pratik Kumar Banik, Resident Medical Officer (RMO) of the hospital, told the UNB correspondent when he went to visit the hospital.
In Chapainawabganj, patients are crowding Sadar Hospital every day and many of them are receiving treatment on the hospital floor for lack of accommodation.
Nadim Sarkar, the RMO of the hospital, said more than 300 patients affected with cold-related diseases received medical services from the hospital over the last one week.
Chuadanga Civil Surgeon Dr Khairul Alam said huge patients, particularly affected with pneumonia, cough and diarrhea, have been coming to the hospital for the last few days.
Apart from triggering the health problems, the winter has also hit hard the incomes of the poor -- particularly the day-labourers and rickshaw-pullers.
“I didn’t find any work in the town in the last three days,” said Abdul Jalil, a day-labourer from the Sadar upazila’s Jalshuka village.
Sabdul Mondol, another day-labourer, said employers are declining to provide works due to the severe cold.
Samadul Haq, a meteorologist at Chuadanga Met office, said he hoped the weather would improve in the coming days.
The prevailing weather is proving to be too much for many, particularly those living on the streets and even those in thatched houses for lack of warm clothes.
Gopal Chandra Das, the deputy commissioner of Chuadanga, said the administration has received thousands of warm clothes. “Some of them (warm clothes) have already been distributed among the destitute and the rest will be distributed within 2-3 days,” he added.
Dhaka, Jan 4 (UNB) – “Our blood is pure. Our blood is tested. Awami League is not only a party but the name of a feeling,” this is how late Syed Ashraful Islam, one of the brightest stars in Bangladesh’s politics, had encouraged millions of its supporters across the country through his last political speech.
Senior political leaders and followers of the former AL general secretary and Public Administration Minister keep showering their love and respect on him recalling those “encouraging” last words when he said, “If we remain united, no force in the world can stop Awami League.”
“He (Ashraf) was a symbol of mass people’s love and confidence. We’ve lost a broad-minded, honest and patriotic political personality,” said Industries Minister Amir Hossain Amu mentioning that the vacuum that has been created in Bangladesh’s political landscape through his demise is irreparable.
Commerce Minister Tofail Ahmed said Syed Ashraf had played a very important role in the War of Liberation and various democratic movements.
He said the vacuum of losing such a friendly, dedicated, far-sighted and honest political leader free from greed will never be filled.
Syed Ashraf, the eldest son of national leader and acting president of Mujibnagar Government Syed Nazrul Islam, died of lung cancer at a hospital in Thailand on Thursday night four days after being elected an MP of the 11th parliament.
State Minister for Foreign Affairs M Shahriar Alam said Syed Ashraf, son of Bangabandhu’s close associate Syed Nazrul Islam, is an exemplary political personality for them. “He was a widely respected person and the nation will always remember this patriotic and mass people’s leader with respect.”
Talking to UNB, former Dhaka University Vice Chancellor Prof AAMS Arefin Siddique said Syed Ashraf in his entire life fought for establishing democracy and he demonstrated his prudent leadership during the 1/11 episode.
He said Syed Ashraf had always followed the political principles of Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman and he did never abuse power despite his presence close to power which will remain exemplary to the new generation of political leaders. “His untimely demise will create a big vacuum in Bangladesh’s political arena.”
Syed Ashraf, in his speech at AL’s 20th national council, said Bangabandhu is the name of a feeling and the feelings that came through sacrifices of the lives of thousands of AL people and through various movements is the Awami League.
“Awami League is marching ahead, Awami League will march ahead. Bangladesh will turn into a Sonar Bangla under the leadership of (Prime Minister) Sheikh Hasina,” he was heard saying in a video clip of AL followers are sharing on social media recalling him with respect.
Newly elected AL MP Prof Dr AK Abdul Momen, who also shared the video clip, said, “He (Syed Ashraf) was a much respected person. I always felt good while talking to him. There was an intellectual flavour in his talks. He was a very realistic and honest politician.”
Momen hoped that other politicians will follow his footsteps saying Syed Ashraf was a very honest politician like his father.
Sharing his memories with Syed Ashraf during their visit to Shanghai, China back in 2014, AL deputy office secretary Barrister Biplob Barua wrote on his Facebook wall, “Syed Ashraf was an authority of different political philosophy in Bangladesh’s politics.”
He said politeness, honesty, courage, ideology and loyalty towards leadership were the main principles Syed Ashraf maintained.
Syed Ashraf was elected MP from Kishoreganj-1 constituency in 1996, 2001, 2008 and 2014 apart from the latest one held on December 30, 2018.
He started his political career during his student life with Chhatra League and became General Secretary of BCL's greater Mymensingh district unit. He was a member of the Mukti Bahini during the Liberation War.
Syed Ashraf left the country for the UK following the killing of his father on November 3, 1975, inside Dhaka Central Jail along with the three other national leaders.
In the UK, he got engaged in various activities with the Bangladeshi community and worked for organising the Awami League there.
He was elected MP and served as the State Minister for Civil Aviation and Tourism Ministry from 1996-2001 upon his return home in 1996.
The leader was inducted as the Minister of Local Government, Rural Development and Cooperatives after the 2008 election win.
He was given the charge of the Public Administration Ministry later in July 2015 the post which he held till his death.
Syed Ashraf together with former President Zillur Rahman ran the party when Sheikh Hasina was in jail during the 1/11 episode.
Bagerhat, Jan 4 (UNB) – Newly elected Member of Parliament Sheikh Sarhan Naser Tonmoy has expressed his restlessness to start working to build a country with boundless possibilities.
Marking the third generation of MPs in Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman’s family and one of nine members of the family who will be part of the 11th Jatiya Sangshad, Tonmoy spoke to UNB shortly after being administered the oath of office on Thursday.
“I’m very happy upon taking the oath...the promises must be kept... the words I uttered while taking the oath must count, there’re many things to learn from this parliament,” he said.
A work plan has already been prepared for the development of his constituency (Bagerhat Sadar and Kachua) as he wants to work for changing the fate of the people of his area, he said.
“I want to learn from the senior leaders of parliament. All together we’ll have to build Bangladesh, a country of possibilities. A pressure to work for the welfare of people has been built after taking oath. Now we just have to start the work of serving people,” he said.
“Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina has showed us the dream that we see for a Bangladesh with unlimited potentials. Lakhs of youths, like me, have seen this dream and have brought victory for Boat by casting their votes for Awami league,” said 31-year-old Tonmoy.
Tonmoy, the Awami League’s youngest candidate in the 11th national election, secured victory by bagging 221,212 votes from Bagerhat-2 constituency. He also gained popularity nationwide for his good looks and youthful campaign style – for example, insisting on being recognised not as a leader, but as a worker.
In his electoral rallies, Tonmoy promised a Bagerhat without drugs, corruption, extortion and terrorism.
Meanwhile, the people of Bagerhat -2 constituency want to see Tonmoy inducted in the cabinet.
By way of education, after completing his third standard in his homeland, Tonmoy left for boarding school in India in 1987. He then completed O and A levels in Dhaka.
During the emergency regime in 2007, again he went to India and returned in 2012. He went to London in 2015 for higher studies.
A married man, Tonmoy also worked for a company in Singapore.
He formally joined party politics in 2017 and secured a landmark victory in the election.
Dhaka, Jan 3 (UNB) – Many think public universities are meant for only providing education. Not exactly! These days, students come up with their basic health needs and university medical centres are supposed to address those.
A few days back, a female student of Dhaka University shared in social media what she experienced at the institution’s medical centre. She recently visited the facility thrice with an eye problem but was denied treatment every time, she alleged.
Her Facebook post mostly drew negative and angry comments, lambasting the poor treatment at DU’s lone medical treatment facility, set up in 1922.
Thirty-six doctors, including six part-timers and six homeopaths, are there to treat more than 39,000 students, 2,012 teachers, over 4,000 staff and their families. The centre only has 30 beds and four ambulances.
It does not have a separate ward for female patients.
Over 400 patients visit the centre every day but many complain about poor services and the absence of physicians.
Students alleged that the centre advised them to get treated at the Dhaka Medical College Hospital (DMCH) – even for common diseases or minor injuries – most of the time.
Dr Sarawer Jahan Muktafi, the chief medical officer (acting) of the centre, turned down the allegations. “We’re always trying our best to serve the patients despite our limitations,” he said.
Staff at the medical centre claimed that 140,320 people were treated at the centre in 2016-17 fiscal.
A source at the university said the medical centre was supposed to provide free medicines for some common diseases but most of the time, it offers only painkillers and Napa.
The facility is also supposed to supply fresh bed sheets and mosquito nets to patients but it rarely does, the source said. More worrying is that its toilets are not cleaned regularly.
DU Proctor Prof AKM Golam Rabbani said they are expanding the medical centre and would hire more people. “We can open the extension after a few months. That will solve the problems,” he hoped.
But those assurances are hardly enough to pacify the disgruntled students.
“The physicians and staff are not friendly and doctors remain absent most of the time,” said Shimul Shahriar, an MA student. “They don’t take us seriously even if we suffer from serious illnesses.”
“They offer us painkillers or Napa and tell us to go to the DMCH or other hospitals for treatment. This medical centre is good for nothing,” he said.