In coastal Bangladesh, rising sea levels erode lives and livelihoods

Women carry aluminum pot to fetch safe drinking water for their families in Gabura, an area comprising 15 villages in southern Bangladesh, on Feb. 18, 2022. (Photo courtesy of LEDARS Bangladesh)
Women carry aluminum pot to fetch safe drinking water for their families in Gabura, an area comprising 15 villages in southern Bangladesh, on Feb. 18, 2022. (Photo courtesy of LEDARS Bangladesh)
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Updated 18 February 2022

In coastal Bangladesh, rising sea levels erode lives and livelihoods

Women carry aluminum pot to fetch safe drinking water for their families in Gabura, an area comprising 15 villages in southern Bangladesh, on Feb. 18, 2022. (Photo courtesy of LEDARS Bangladesh)
  • Safe drinking water increasingly scarce in the country’s seaside regions Climate change impacts expected to displace as many as 5.5 million people

DHAKA: Growing up, it only took Hosnera Begum a quick stroll to the ponds near her home to fetch fresh water.

These days, the 27-year-old must walk more than 2 km every day to gather 20 liters of safe drinking water for her family, as encroaching seawater increasingly contaminates supplies in her home village in Gabura, in southern Bangladesh.

“In my childhood the problem was not so severe,” Begum told Arab News. “Now the situation is getting worse every day. There are only a couple of ponds protected from getting mixed with salt water … providing drinking water to thousands of us.”

Gabura, located in the Ganges Delta and under Satkhira district, is home to around 45,000 people.

Begum is among millions living in coastal Bangladesh who have suffered through the devastating impacts of climate change. Increased cyclones, higher tides, and flooding have particularly brought salt water further inland, contaminating precious sources of drinking water.

Bangladesh, a country of about 167 million people, is among the hardest-hit by climate change, despite contributing only a fraction of the world’s emission. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change estimates that a 45 cm sea-level rise will inundate almost 11 percent of the country’s territory and displace 5.5 million people from the coastal regions.

Mohon Kumar Mondal, head of LEDARS Bangladesh, a local organization working on climate resilience, said the impacts of climate change have affected Gabura residents for more than two decades.

Though residents can still get fresh water from the local ponds, the filtration process does not generate pure drinking water and subsequently affects people’s health.

“(It results) in a high number of water-borne diseases, skin diseases, and cervical cancer among the people,” Mondal told Arab News.

Another Gabura resident, 45-year-old Shahida Begum, said increasing salinity of the soil in coastal villages has also impacted rice farming, the region’s traditional occupation.

“We can’t grow rice anymore on our paddyfields,” she told Arab News. “Earlier, we could grow different freshwater fish in the ponds. But now the ponds are without any fish.”

Salinity in soil, according to a 2010 study by Bangladesh’s Soil Resources Development Institute, has increased by 26 percent over the past 35 years.

Shahida said other villagers have switched to shrimp cultivation, which does not need many day laborers, using land previously used to grow rice.

Climate scientist Prof. Atiq Rahman said coastal regions must focus on adapting against the impacts of climate change “since there is no way to undo the situation.”

Rahman told Arab News: “People have come up with innovative solutions in terms of agriculture and cattle rearing, these kinds of innovations should be promoted and the knowledge disseminated among people across the coastal regions.”

The local government in Gabura said harvesting rainwater is the only sustainable solution for the islanders.

“But government initiatives are not enough, in contrast to huge demand for rainwater harvesting plants,” Masudul Alam, chairman of local government representative body Gabura Union, told Arab News.

Alam said the government managed to distribute rainwater harvesting plants for six families in the last year, out of 7,000 affected households in the region.

For people living in places severely impacted like Gabura, climate change has forced them to leave. Data from the Bangladesh Bureau of Statistics show that the population rate in the area has declined, with thousands of men migrating elsewhere in the country over the years.

But that is not feasible for some like Begum, who earns a meager $2.50 daily.

“Since I can’t afford a town life, I have to continue living here with the most hardships caused by nature,” she said.

 


Man charged with new woman’s killing on streets of London

Updated 8 sec ago

Man charged with new woman’s killing on streets of London

Man charged with new woman’s killing on streets of London
LONDON: A man was remanded in custody Wednesday after appearing in a London court charged with the murder and attempted rape of a woman who had been walking home alone in east London.
It was the latest in a string of similar incidents that have heightened concern over the safety of women and girls on the British capital’s streets.
Jordan McSweeney, 29, is charged with the murder of 35-year-old Zara Aleena, who was attacked after a night out in Ilford in the early hours of Sunday.
McSweeney, who is also charged with attempted rape and robbery, spoke only to confirm his name and details during a brief hearing at the Thames Magistrates’ Court.
In a statement, Aleena’s family mourned her death and called for an end to violence against women. They highlighted the killings of other women who were targeted by strangers in London and elsewhere.
The family expressed sympathy to the families of Sarah Everard, Sabina Nessa and others who were killed in recent months and whose deaths prompted widespread protests calling for more protection for women and girls.
The family said Aleena, a law graduate who was training to become a lawyer, “walked everywhere” and “believed that a woman should be able to walk home.”
“Sadly, Zara is not the only one who has had her life taken at the hands of a stranger. We all know women should be safe on our streets. She was in the heart of her community, 10 minutes from home,” their statement said.
Police said Aleena suffered serious head injuries, confirmed in a post-mortem examination.
McSweeney was denied bail and remanded in custody until he is due to appear at London’s Central Criminal Court on Jul. 27.
A march remembering Aleena is planned in Ilford on Saturday.

Japan’s Kishida backs Sweden’s NATO bid

Japan’s Kishida backs Sweden’s NATO bid
Updated 5 min 24 sec ago

Japan’s Kishida backs Sweden’s NATO bid

Japan’s Kishida backs Sweden’s NATO bid
  • Japan hopes to strengthen its relations with Sweden further as partners sharing basic values, Kishida added.

MADRID: Japanese Prime Minister KISHIDA Fumio on Wednesday expressed support for Sweden’s bid to join NATO in a meeting with his Swedish counterpart, Magdalena Andersson, on Wednesday.
“We support (Sweden’s) historic decision. We also express our respect for its efforts,” Kishida told Andersson.
NATO, which opened a two-day summit in Madrid on Wednesday, is expected to grant membership to Sweden and Finland after Turkey switched to support their participation.
Kishida said that Japan and Sweden will hold the presidency of the Group of Seven major powers and the European Union, respectively, next year.
Japan hopes to strengthen its relations with Sweden further as partners sharing basic values, Kishida added.
Andersson expressed gratitude for Japan’s strong action against Russia in response to its invasion of Ukraine.


Russian court lets opposition figure’s jail term stand

Russian court lets opposition figure’s jail term stand
Updated 29 June 2022

Russian court lets opposition figure’s jail term stand

Russian court lets opposition figure’s jail term stand
  • The decision by the Moscow City Court came one day after Ilya Yashin was sentenced

MOSCOW: A court in Moscow on Wednesday rejected a prominent Russian opposition figure’s appeal of the 15-day jail sentence he received on charges of failing to obey police.
The decision by the Moscow City Court, the capital’s highest municipal judicial body, came one day after Ilya Yashin was sentenced.
Yashin, who has publicly criticized Russia’s military campaign in Ukraine, was detained late Monday in a Moscow park. Police said he grabbed an officer by his uniform and insulted police, which Yashin denied.
In May, Yashin was ordered to pay 90,000 rubles ($1700) on charges of discrediting the Russian military.
Russia has cracked down on critics of its “special military operation” in Ukraine, A well-known dissident, Vladimir Kara-Murza, was arrested in April and remains jailed while awaiting trial on charges of spreading false information about the military. The offense carries a potential sentence of up to 15 years.


NATO invites Sweden and Finland to join the alliance, Madrid summit statement says

NATO invites Sweden and Finland to join the alliance, Madrid summit statement says
Updated 29 June 2022

NATO invites Sweden and Finland to join the alliance, Madrid summit statement says

NATO invites Sweden and Finland to join the alliance, Madrid summit statement says
  • The alliance also agreed on a new strategic concept

MADRID: NATO has invited Sweden and Finland to become members of the military alliance, a commununique published by the NATO summit in Madrid on Wednesday said.
“The accession of Finland and Sweden will make them (the allies) safer, NATO stronger and the Euro-Atlantic area more secure,” the communique said, adding that the alliance also agreed a new strategic concept.
The communique described Russia as the “most significant and direct threat to the allies’ security,” a reaction to the massively deteriorated relationship to Russia since its invasion of Ukraine.
The alliance pledged further help to Kyiv and agreed a package of support aimed at modernizing the country’s defense sector.
At the same time, NATO decided to significantly strengthen its own deterrence and defense.
“Allies have committed to deploy additional robust in-place combat-ready forces on our eastern flank, to be scaled up from the existing battlegroups to brigade-size units, where and when required underpinned by credible available reinforcements, prepositioned equipment, and enhanced command and control,” the communique said.
In the communique, the alliance described China as a challenge to NATO’s interests, security and values, and as a country that is seeking to undermine the rules-based international order.


EU proposes ban on flavored heated tobacco products

EU proposes ban on flavored heated tobacco products
Updated 29 June 2022

EU proposes ban on flavored heated tobacco products

EU proposes ban on flavored heated tobacco products
  • A recent commission study showed a 10% increase in sales of heated tobacco products in more than five member nations
  • The ban would cover devices using heated tobacco to produce emissions containing nicotine inhaled by users

BRUSSELS: The European Union’s executive branch on Wednesday proposed a ban on the sale of flavored heated tobacco products as part of its plan to fight cancer.
The European Commission said its proposal comes in response to a significant increase in the volume of such products sold across the 27-nation bloc.
A recent commission study showed a 10 percent increase in sales of heated tobacco products in more than five member nations, while heated tobacco products exceeded 2.5 percent of total sales of tobacco products overall across the region.
The ban would cover devices using heated tobacco to produce emissions containing nicotine inhaled by users. E-cigarettes may contain nicotine, but not tobacco. With traditional cigarettes, users inhale smoke from burning tobacco.
“With nine out of 10 lung cancers caused by tobacco, we want to make smoking as unattractive as possible to protect the health of our citizens and save lives,” said Stella Kyriakides, the commissioner for health and food safety.
According to EU figures, cancer is the second cause of death in the bloc of 450 million residents. There are about 1.3 million cancer deaths and 3.5 million new cases annually in the EU.
An estimated 40 percent of EU citizens will face cancer at some point in their lives, with the annual economic impact estimated at around 100 billion euros ($120 billion).
The European Commission previously said it wanted to ensure that less than 5 percent of the EU population uses tobacco by 2040.
The proposed ban now goes to member nations and European Parliament lawmakers for review.