Despite the deluge, people are trying to continue life as normal in Bangladesh. The monsoon rains hit the northern regions hardest, first in May and then again in June, as communities were trying to recover. Sylhet province was more than 80% underwater when flooding was at its peak.
There are many other images of people waist high in water, carrying emergency food aid, precious household items, or simply their daily belongings. This is a common and stark reminder of how climate change is impacting people’s lives in the country. The waters are rising. Low-lying areas in northern Bangladesh are prone to flooding, but this year’s downpour was the worst in Sylhet for over 120 years, according to the Department of Disaster Management.
On the other side of the country, Bangladesh’s southern shores are prone to cyclones and storms coming off the Bay of Bengal. In a lesser reported event, high tidal surges swept through coastal districts over the summer, ruining the livelihoods of farmers and fishermen. Crops are disappearing, and seedbeds are washing away with seawater and salt in the soil. This forced farmers to start again, buying seedlings from other regions at higher prices. Standing water is also a danger, destroying vegetable crops and increasing the likelihood of disease. Fishermen, too, are caught by the tidal surges, preventing them from going to sea. This is on top of depleted fish stocks and regular cyclone warnings.
One of the impacts of these disasters is forced migration. Dhaka, Bangladesh’s capital, sits in the middle of the country and is home to over 20 million people. This number has been growing year-on-year due to new arrivals from the coasts. Hundreds of thousands of families are leaving their hometowns. Therefore, Dhaka, and other nearby cities, are facing renewed pressure to provide for a daily influx of climate migrants.