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Mass awareness on climate change needed

Rahman Jahangir | Published: January 27, 2016 22:25:59 | Updated: October 19, 2017 14:33:38


Whatever gains Bangladesh today is making is due to common people's resilience. They are doing it themselves without waiting and looking for external guidance either in agriculture or small businesses in rural markets. But then in the event of looming environmental disasters, the grassroots people need to be made aware of what is set to befall them and how to address the crises. It is true that Bangladesh will have to face cyclones and, in some areas, drought with usual flooding now not known for many years. As climate change forces the frequency and intensity of natural disasters to mount, Bangladesh and other countries will have to face devastating consequences: the country could lose up to a third of its land mass, displacing nearly 40 million people.
Bangladesh urgently needs to build its capacity in order to better respond to natural disasters, saving lives and preventing losses. The government had mobilised resources and provided support after two devastating cyclones, helping to implement long-term recovery plans aimed at building the nation's ability to respond and adapt. After the tidal surges of Cyclone Aila in Bangladesh in May 2009 left hundreds of thousands of people homeless, without fresh water or food, the government as well as various NGOs reached out to the affected communities with emergency relief and plans for longer term rehabilitation, like introducing varieties of seeds and rice that can grow in the now-salinised water.
By educating ourselves about climate change, we can work towards avoiding future disasters. Not long ago, the government directed the water resources ministry to take more effective steps for recovering the 'occupied' rivers around the capital. But, the ministry is now almost inactive in the field of water resources management, protection of the rivers and tackling of the climate change impacts. It has virtually failed to play a dynamic role to protect people from drought, over precipitation, storm and water surges.
The Prime Minister has laid the foundation stone of the head offices of Centre for Environmental and Geographic Information Services (CEGIS) and Institute of Water Modelling (IWM). CEGIS and IWM, two important wings of the Water Resources Ministry, have an immense role to prepare plans and management of the country's natural resources efficiently. Happily, Bangladesh Institute of Water Modelling (IWM) provides world-class services in the field of Water Modelling, Computational Hydraulics and Allied Sciences for improved integrated Water Resources Management. Bangladesh Centre for Environmental and Geographic Information Services (CEGIS) is a public trust to support the management of natural resources for sustainable socio-economic development using integrated environmental analysis, geographic information systems, remote sensing and information technology.
But all the precious lessons learnt by the researchers need to trickle down to the grassroots so that common people can apply their expertise at the field level. Such mass awareness drives are not expensive; simple posters with clear messages on do's and don'ts pasted in the Union Parishads and market places can help them adapt to climate changes easily and without incurring any cost.
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