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FT - In Lebu Bunia - Bangladeshi Village - What's Not Washed Away Is Awash In Salt As Sea Rises

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hatrack Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Sep-22-09 12:17 PM
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FT - In Lebu Bunia - Bangladeshi Village - What's Not Washed Away Is Awash In Salt As Sea Rises
Over his 45 years, Siddique Ur-Rahman, a Bangladeshi rice farmer, has watched as his world has been gradually swallowed by water. During his youth his family cultivated 7.2 acres along the Kholpotua river, a waterway then so narrow that villagers standing on one bank could call across to those on the other side. But as the riverbed silted up, the waters rose and spread, submerging vast swathes of low-lying paddy land, including Mr Rahmans familys fields.

By 1997, Mr Rahman had started working in shrimp farms fed by the Kholpotuas waters, which had grown increasingly saline as rising sea levels pushed salty water deeper into Bangladeshs low-lying river deltas. Then, in May this year, southern Bangladesh was battered by cyclone Aila and a tidal surge, which destroyed 1,700km of embankments, including those protecting Mr Rahmans village of Lebu Bunia. Villagers homes, livestock and belongings were all washed away. Today, Mr Rahman and 73 other shell-shocked families from Lebu Bunia live on the narrow finger of the embankments remains, as do nearly 1m other Aila survivors. Twice each day at high tide, water rushes over their ruined lands making it impossible for them to rebuild their homes. Each month at full moon the water rises so high it almost engulfs the embankment.


Lebu Bunia with its ruined lands and desperate survivors offers an alarming glimpse into a possible future if the international community fails to agree a meaningful plan to tackle global warming in the coming months. Tropical island nations such as the Maldives, an Indian Ocean holiday paradise, have been well recognised for their extreme vulnerability to the effects of global warming, especially after Mohamed Nasheed, the Maldives media-savvy president, vowed to set aside some of the archipelagos $1bn annual tourist revenues to purchase a new homeland for his countrys 300,000 citizens.

But the human dislocation that unchecked global warming could cause in the Maldives is dwarfed by the scale of the threat to Bangladesh, one of the worlds most densely populated countries. Scientists see it as the nation that will be hardest hit by the consequences of climate change.

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