Climate change to hurt food security

February 26, 2012

Bangladesh must improve financial management to get int’l fund to fight its impacts, say experts
Bangladesh must improve its financial management to obtain a significant share of funds available globally to combat climate change impacts and ensure food security, said an eminent climatologist yesterday.
“The developed countries are ready to release billions of dollars to the affected countries. It is not impossible for Bangladesh to collect $2 to 3 billion, as the country is in the forefront of the fight against the climate change impacts,” said Prof Ainun Nishat, a senior adviser to International Union for Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources.
“But I am afraid Bangladesh may not get hold of the funds due to its poor financial management. The country must notice the direction the world is moving towards,” he said.
Prof Nishat was speaking at a discussion on “Climate change, natural disaster, environmental management and food security” on the concluding day of a two-day international symposium styled “Science for Society” at Bangladesh Agriculture Research Council in the capital.
Supported by Japan Embassy here, Japan Society for the Promotion of Science (JSPS) Alumni Association organised the event to mark the 40th anniversary of Japan-Bangladesh diplomatic relations. About 300 researchers from the two countries took part in the symposium.
Prof Nishat, also the vice-chancellor of Brac University, said food security in Bangladesh would come under a serious threat if the sea level rises to a dangerous point. The ecosystem and biodiversity will undergo major changes, as they will not be able to acclimatise.
“We have had good yield in the last three years due to congenial weather. But if we are forced to import even a small volume of food grains, it will be a major concern for us.”
Around six to seven crore people of the country would be homeless due to the sea level rise, he said, adding, “Apart from food security, there will be massive outbound migration.”
According to him, the agriculture and the health ministries have progressed a lot in tackling the climate change “but many other ministries have not realised their roles”.
He said climate change and climate variability are real. Every country is initiating something about the issue, but a stable situation is not likely to be achieved soon. “The whole of the world urgently needs to focus on what to do about it.”
The environmentalist said even if carbon emission is completely stopped now, it would take at least 30 years for the world to fix the damage. “It means the danger will be graver in the coming days.”
Forestation has to be introduced to combat carbon dioxide, he said, adding that the world’s temperature has increased by 0.76 degree Celsius since 1850, whereas the rise in Bangladesh is 1.1 degrees Celsius.
Bangladesh is one of the lowest greenhouse gas producers, with per capita annual emission of 0.2 tonnes.
Nishat, former professor of Bangladesh University of Engineering and Technology (Buet), said the country must accelerate its adaptation process to offset the damages caused by climate change impacts.
Citing their study findings, Mahin Al Nahian, a researcher of Institute of Water and Food Management (IWFM) of Buet, said migration was found to be a major adaptation strategy after any disaster, especially loss of land and livelihood. Women are the worse victim of seasonal migration.
He said women became more vulnerable in post Aila scenario with increased burden of water collection and food management.
SM Imamul Huq, vice-president of Bangladesh Academy of Sciences, who co-chaired the session, said the nation has to consume less and conserve more to cut the impact of climate change.
Prof Lutful Hassan, of Department of Genetics and Plant Breeding at Bangladesh Agricultural University, Mymensingh, said temperature rise would seriously harm soil fertility and thus agricultural production.
Mahmud Hasan Tuhin, a research assistant of IWFM, Abul Hossain Molla, a researcher of Department of Bioenvironmental Science at Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman Agricultural University in Gazipur, and SM Shahinul Islam of Institute of Biological Sciences at Rajshahi University, among others, also spoke at yesterday’s symposium.

-With The Daily Star input

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