Climate idea
Image of UN Environment Programme

UN Environment Programme

Climate idea

‘Peace of mind at last’: the Bangladeshi villagers digging their way out of the floods

‘Plinth’ settlements built on raised ground above the country’s flooding rivers are providing permanent homes and emergency refuges Hamida Khatun is sick of moving. The 60-year-old has been displaced about 20 times during her life, always as a result of climate disasters. “They seem to follow me wherever I go,” she says. But in 2019, the floods were the worst. “I thought at some point it would stop but it just kept rising and rising,” says Khatun. She saved herself from drowning by grabbing hold of a fallen banana tree that was floating past, and used it as a raft to get to safety. Born in Tangail, central Bangladesh, Khatun moved from one makeshift home to another along the coastal belt before reaching Chilmari, a sub-district in the north, on the west bank of the Brahmaputra; one of the world’s largest rivers. Once a vibrant port, Chilmari is now prone to catastrophic flooding. Every year thousands of hectares of land quietly crumble into the rivers that wind through it. Rushing waters constantly shift the landscape, breaking up the silty ground and turning it into a sea with thousands of tiny islands, known as chars. Water can rise fast, by almost 12ft (3.6 metres), submerging houses on the river islands, and sinking vulnerable communities deeper into poverty. Erosion has long been a part of life here, devouring land and livelihoods. But it is getting worse. Water levels of all the major rivers in the country have been rising and last year, heavy monsoon rains led to the worst floods in Bangladesh in two decades. In 2020, the charity Friendship carried out a study in Chilmari and found that 85% of displacement was down to riverbank erosion, 56% due to flooding and 3% due to storms. Since then, the displacement rate in the region further increased owing to the intensification and frequency of natural disasters. Recent estimates suggest that by 2050, one in every seven people in Bangladesh will be displaced by climate change, and up to 18 million people may have to move because of sea level rises. Friendship introduced a project of plinth housing – built on elevated land to create permanent safe housing as well as to accommodate displaced families and their possessions during floods. It’s a simple technique that has been used in flood-prone regions for millennia. Earth is dredged from rivers to create a large, oval-shaped plateau that is typically 8-10ft high, and strategically placed so that it can withstand the oncoming rush of water during monsoons. Each plinth can permanently accommodate 20-25 families and provide temporary shelter to up to 120 more in an emergency. In the middle of the field will be a freshwater pond, which will provide a source of drinking water and a place to fish Early one morning, in a field in the village of Mudafat on Austamir char, a community consultation is taking place. The land has recently been acquired by Friendship and the construction of a new plinth will soon begin. A small group of villagers gather around Sahadat Hossain, a land surveyor involved in planning the project. “The design of the plinth was initially based on a square but later changed to an oval shape that faces north. This is intended to allow water coming from the north to be diverted to either side of the oval,” says Hossain. “Over here, in the middle of the field, will be a freshwater pond, which will provide a source of drinking water and a place to fish.” Plinth projects are not only carried out in consultation with the community but built by them, too. Villagers are employed throughout the construction period, enabling them to contribute towards the build and earn an income. Friendship has built 20 plinths since 2011. Each costs about £40,000 to construct, if the charity is able to acquire free land. A local businessman, Mohammed Shahalom, 48, recently donated some of his family’s land for a new plinth to be built. “I’ve lived here all my life and it pains me to see my people struggle,” says Shahalom. “I decided to donate the land as sadaqa [charity] and I encourage others to do the same. There’s so much land here that is just not being utilised – and there is always goodness in giving.” https://www.theguardian.com/global-development/2023/may/04/bangladeshi-villagers-digging-their-way-out-of-the-floods-plinth-settlements?CMP=Share_AndroidApp_Other

Do you agree?

50 more agrees trigger social media ads

  • Videlis Eddie

    62 w

    Wonderful

    6
    • winnie nguru

      62 w

      Hope at last for those in Bangladesh

      4
      • Kevin

        62 w

        WOOW.Amazing

        5
        • Tabitha Kimani

          62 w

          A good adaptation measure courtesy of climate change.

          8
          • Rukia Ahmed Abdi

            62 w

            This great encourage

            7
            • Daniel Waweru

              62 w

              This is encouraging

              11
              • Munene Mugambi

                62 w

                This is a good move overall for the Bangladeshi people

                10
                • Daniel Waweru

                  62 w

                  @munene_mugambi It indeed is. The moves we want

                  6
                • Paul Ghislain POUM BIMBAR

                  62 w

                  Great

                  7
                  • Rukia Ahmed Abdi

                    62 w

                    It's sad how climate change has impacted the people of Bangladesh, hope this can help them

                    9
                    • Patrik Lobergh

                      62 w

                      @rukia_ahmed_abdi This good idea and initiative may be used in multiple locations, as the climate impact proceeds

                      9
                    • Lydia Lynn abuga

                      62 w

                      Great

                      9
                      • John linus Tom

                        62 w

                        Wonderful

                        20
                        • Ajema Lydiah

                          62 w

                          wonderful

                          20
                          Welcome, let's solve the climate crisis together
                          Post youtube preview with preloading
                          youtube overlay

                          Write or agree to climate reviews to make businesses and world leaders act. It’s easy and it works.

                          Write a climate review

                          Voice your opinion on how businesses and organizations impact the climate.
                          0 trees planted

                          One tree is planted for every climate review written to an organization that is Open for Climate Dialogue™.

                          Download the app

                          We plant a tree for every new user.

                          AppleAndroid