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adverse effects of climate change on indigenous peoples in bangladesh 
Aivee Akther Bangladesh Environmental Problems

Adverse effects of climate change on indigenous peoples in Bangladesh 

Adverse effects of climate change on indigenous peoples in Bangladesh

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Floods, cyclones, droughts, heavy rains, river erosion, increase in water salinity, lightning, and temperature changes generally discuss in the context of climate change at the global level, including in Bangladesh. The adverse effects of climate change on people’s livelihood, biodiversity, and environment are also discussed.

A report based on field visits and interviews with various groups of people by the United Nations Special Envoy on Climate Change and Human Rights who visited Bangladesh reported that the death rate due to lightning has increased in Bangladesh (which is the top in the world).

The tendency of rural people affected by the loss of livelihood to migrate to cities, government harassment towards climate and environmental rights activists, and the role of some influential and dishonest government officials in deforestation also discuss in the report.

Identifying Bangladesh as one of the most critical countries in the world due to climate change, the UN envoy urged the developed countries that emit more carbon to come forward to deal with the harmful effects of climate change.



Like other vulnerable groups of the country, such as the poor, the elderly, women, children, and groups with special needs, tribals are also vulnerable to climate change impacts.

However, the adverse impacts of climate change on tribals in Bangladesh are much higher than in other population groups. One of the reasons for this is the socio-political and economic marginalization of tribals, their dependence on nature, and their geographical location.

Most of the indigenous people of the country live in remote rural areas. Tribals depend on nature for various elements of worship and cultural practices, including food, water, and housing materials.

Like humans, nature also threatens by climate change. In addition to the direct harmful effects caused by climate change, indigenous peoples get affected in various ways by the nature-destroying activities undertaken by government and non-governmental organizations or individuals or groups.

These include rubber cultivation by encroaching on the traditional land of the tribals, construction of various types of facilities, including tourism, land occupation in the name of forestry, and extraction of stones and sand from waterfalls.



Due to this, the local environment, including natural forests, biodiversity, and water, has been irreparably damaged. The tribals are facing an extreme shortage of food and drinking water and eviction from their land.

Due to drought caused by climate change, farmers in many parts of Bangladesh face a water shortage for farming. A non-tribal farmer has had to commit suicide after repeatedly asking the authorities for water to save his rice due to the caste discrimination system – it is doubtful whether such a suicide case can find in the country.

But the recent suicide of two Santal farmers of Rajshahi due to poisoning has proved the reality of their hazardous life due to the climate crisis and constant discrimination.

Due to non-rainfall, Khasia farmers are facing a series of problems, such as being unable to plant seedlings at the right time, attack of new insects on crops, lack of fresh water, the nuisance of wild animals coming to the locality due to lack of forest land, tribal girls trying to avoid discomfort and shame by stopping their normal menstrual cycle by taking birth control pills due to lack of water, etc.

All these problems reflect climate-related issues and their subordination within the state. To deal with these problems, indigenous people rarely receive the support of state representatives from the local to the national level.



The overwhelming wave of Bangladesh’s ‘development’ tide has now reached the backyards of tribals in Bandarban. However, the tribals do not belong to the development planning, participation in the implementation process, and profit sharing.

Indigenous peoples are experiencing harm or potential harm from climate change mitigation projects. Like other development projects in Bangladesh, these projects impose on the tribal areas without consultation or consent.

The traditional knowledge and practices related to the environment and biodiversity of the indigenous people in the respective areas are not valued here. A striking example of this is the Sustainable Forests & Livelihoods (SUFAL) project implemented by the Government Forest Department.

Reducing the forest dependence of forest-based communities and bringing about socio-economic development, wildlife conservation, increasing tree cover and sustainable forest management are the goals of this project. Still, the project under implementation needs to bring benefits to the tribals or the environment.

Environmentalists fear that the project is threatening natural forests and forest biodiversity, and the livelihoods and habitats of people living there for a long time, especially tribal communities, may be further threatened by the project (Samakal, 18 September 2021).



“In the name of development, the forest department imposed one project after another on us. Using the power of local administration and political parties, they have infringed upon our backyards by planting trees for social forestry (SUFAL Project)” – complaint of an aggrieved tribal rights activist about the project.

The adverse effects of climate change on indigenous peoples are much higher and multi-dimensional than those of other communities in the country.

Identifying and dealing with the adverse effects of climate change on indigenous peoples must therefore take into account, and the consent and meaningful participation of indigenous peoples must ensure in all development projects, including related projects undertaken.

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