Bangladesh suffered $1.0 billion in economic losses as 7.3 million people were affected by floods in 2022, according to a new report.
Floodwaters annually trigger a cascade of setbacks that have long-lasting implications for people’s well-being and prosperity.
According to the report of the Grantham Research Institute on Climate Change and the Environment, floods submerge 55-60 per cent of Bangladesh every year.
By 2070-2099, it indicates, peak river flow could surge by a staggering 36 per cent under a high-emission scenario.
The situation has escalated dramatically due to the growing impacts of climate change, demanding an urgent and comprehensive response on a global scale.
The institute revealed the report styled ‘Flood Catastrophe in Bangladesh – Demanding Immediate Action and Energy Transition’ on Wednesday.
Between 1971 and 2014, a total of 78 floods claimed more than 41,783 lives and inflicted economic damage to the tune of $12.2 billion.
Without greater adaptation and resilience, according to the report, both humanitarian and economic costs of flooding in Bangladesh, which are already high, are expected to increase further for climate change.
Bangladesh is sounding a clarion call to the world as it grapples with the convergence of two grave challenges-flooding and climate change.
With over half the population exposed to high flood risks, the report said, Bangladesh stands at the crossroads of a crisis with grave humanitarian, economic and environmental consequences.
Moreover, as climate change accelerates, Bangladesh’s plight becomes even direr. The roots of this issue run deep, with climate change driving erratic rainfall patterns, intensifying flash floods, rising sea levels, and hastening glacial melting.
This intricate system makes it susceptible to flood types, including monsoon, flash, rainfall-induced, and tidal floods.
Prof Dr AKM Saiful Islam, director, Institute of Water and Flood Management at top engineering school BUET, said: “As we witness escalating flood risks facing Bangladesh, recent events such as the devastating floods in Bandarban and Sylhet serve as stark reminders of the urgency of the situation.”
“It’s imperative that we embark on a comprehensive energy transition while simultaneously fortifying our flood management and disaster preparedness strategies.”
“The time for robust climate actions is now, as we work towards safeguarding our communities, livelihood, ecosystem, biodiversity, environment and our future generations,” added Prof Islam.
Umme Kulsoom, a recent flood victim of Kalaghata in the Bandarban area, said they never experienced such flooding in their area before.
“In the history of our area, such an unprecedented catastrophe has never unfolded before our disbelieving eyes. The magnitude of our suffering knows no bounds and the urgency of our situation cannot be overstated.”
“We completely remained helpless, full of misery and frightened,” concluded Ms Kulsoom.
As Bangladesh contributes just 0.25 per cent of global greenhouse gas emissions, the report highlights, its plight underscores the interconnectedness of climate action.
The nation’s survival hinges on a concerted global effort to mitigate the impacts of climate change, especially from high-emitting industrial countries.
Bangladesh must make efforts to fulfil its nationally determined contribution in support of the Paris Pact, according to the Grantham report.
It recommends that a low-carbon pathway is crucial for Bangladesh to tackle future flood crises.
A comprehensive shift in policymaking, moving away from fossil fuels and embracing sustainable power sector policies, is important.