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Farmers beside Brahmaputra in Kurigram have had to move five times at least, in the last ten years. Every year rivers are becoming more violent while people living beside them are becoming more vulnerable. Like Bashumati Debi of Munshiganj, a wiry 37-year-old who has never driven a car, ran an air conditioner or done much of anything that produces greenhouse gases. There are many more people all over the world that are on the verge of becoming climate refugees, the tragic victims of too much or too little water.

Water resource issues interact with a wide range of socioeconomic and environmental sectors including health, agriculture, biodiversity, public safety, industry, and navigation. Even if the emission of greenhouse gases were stabilized today, increases in temperature and the associated impacts including water availability and flooding will continue for many, many years. Things are more critical in a country like Bangladesh which has 140 million people packed into an area a little smaller than Illinois.

In recent decades more intense rainfall events have occurred and people here
experienced extreme water events in the form of severe flood, drought and heat waves. Last year the electric tidal force of the harsh Cyclone Sidr blow or the crushing rivers have altered lives of their inhabitants. People lost children, crops from a field, house or the piece of yard that was their only asset. The flood took away 1.5 million acres of crop, Sidr snatched away 10–15 thousand lives and river erosion gulped thousand acres of land. As the sea level slowly rises, this nation that is little more than a series of low-lying deltas islands amid some of Asia’s mightiest rivers – the Ganges, Jamuna-Brahmaputra and Meghna – is seeing saltwater creep into its
coastal soils and drinking water. Water is a critical core sector so what impacts here
have cascading effects.

From the sustainable development perspective, the top priority for adaptation in the water sector should be to reduce the vulnerabilities of people and societies caused by increased climate variability and extreme events, otherwise Bashumati’s mighty Padma will keep snatching. Many Monwara’s Quran will be blown. Countless Hatem Ali’s milking cows will get lost. These simple people who are always fighting with immense poverty and misfortunes still live a happy village life with no contribution in changing their very known weather will constantly face the water tragedy. It is time to
take proper cautions, policies and regulations to lessen the gap between worse and better.

Water is life; let there be life. Let’s not make it a tragedy.

Munem Wasif