C of E General Synod hears of climate change chaos in Bangladesh

By staff writers
February 8, 2012

The director of the Christian Commission for Development in Bangladesh has addressed a meeting at the General Synod of the Church of England, its governing body.

The meeting, at which the Archbishop of Canterbury and other bishops were present, took place on Tuesday 7 February 2012.

Mr Joyanta Adhikari, director of the Commission, warned of an impending climate catastrophe affecting Bangladesh and the need for urgent action and solidarity.

He told the Anglican gathering that 17 million people faced losing their homes if the predicted 1.5 metre rise in sea levels took place by 2050.

The 60-year-old father-of-two explained how his country was already suffering the devastating impact of climate change.

"All parts of Bangladesh are feeling the effects," he declared. "In the south, rising sea level has led to the intrusion of salt water destroying rice paddy fields which are our main source of food."

"In the north there is drought because of unpredictable and reduced rainfall and the middle of the country suffers from river erosion making river banks, where many people live, unstable and dangerous," said Mr Adhikari.

"We already have a large number of climate refugees who have been forced out of their homes and most of them have to live by the side of the road or in shanty towns," he continued.

"People have been forced to move to cities like Dhaka in search of work and in a country of only 147,000 square km and a population of 142 million this leads to social problems," said director of the Christian Commission for Development in Bangladesh.

He went on:"‘Experts are forecasting that if the world doesn’t change course we will see a rise of 1.5 metres by 2050. If that happens,16 per cent of our land will be under water and 17 million people, 15 per cent of the population, will be left homeless. That is the scale of the catastrophe we are facing."

In Bangladesh Christians make up only 0.3 per cent of the 142 million population.

Mr Adhikari said support from Christian Aid and other agencies allows Christians through the CCBD to serve fellow Bangladeshis.

"Christians are a microscopic minority," he explained. "We don’t normally suffer persecution but significant events in the west and the USA can cause us problems. The CCBD works for all people and is an opportunity for us as Christians to not just help fellow believers but serve the rest of Bangladesh."

One way the charity is helping the country adapt to climate change is developing a salt-water tolerant variety of rice paddy.

Other tactics include floating gardens of water hyacinths heaped together, covered with soil and used to grow vegetables.

The CCBD also works to raise houses above sea level, supply energy efficient cooking stoves and improve infrastructure such as submerged water pipes contaminated with seawater.

Mr Adhikari concluded: "This world has enough for our need, but not our greed. We are all God’s creation and we have to live responsibly to ensure God’s world is not destroyed. We cannot solve the problem of climate change alone, we need the help of people in other countries to reduce pollution."

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