I joined my ActionAid Bangladesh colleagues and volunteers engaged in the preparedness initiatives to mitigate the impact of #cycloneMocha. Most vulnerable members of the community were shifted to cyclone shelters and the Rohingya refugees moved inland from the surrounding areas of the camps. Bangladesh has again demonstrated that preparedness helped to avoid fatalities that could have occurred from the #cycloneMocha. Fortunately, Mocha petered down and veered away!
Back from Cox’s Bazaar having spent time with the communities living in Teknaf and Ukhia and the Rohingya people in Camps 26 and 27, my observation is the conditions are dire, and the people here need support. The most immediate concern is repairment of the damaged shelter, lack of safe drinking water. We cannot ignore these basic human needs.
During the two-day visit, I repeatedly found the problem of the scarcity of water top on the list, along with issues of waste management. This applied for both the local communities and the Rohingya refugees in the camps.
There were two tanks filled with water in the cyclone shelters when 800 plus were moved on Friday and Saturday. Before the night was over, there was no water left! This water was stored with great difficulty as the surface water in the area has been depleted and there has been no rain for the past 4 months due to climate change. Instead, the temperatures have been on the rise and all over Bangladesh we experienced the hottest temperatures ever recorded.
According to sources, global temperatures are likely to surge to record levels in the next 5 years.
Fueled by heat-trapping greenhouse gases and a naturally occurring El Niño event, the rise in temperature will have far-reaching impacts on health, food security, water management and the environment. New update by World Meteorological Organization puts a spotlight on the impacts of the climate crisis and the urgent need to address this.
The impact of the lack of rain and rise in temperature in Bangladesh in general, and particular in Cox’s Bazaar, Teknaf, Ukhia to name a few is causing suffering for the communities we work with.
Water sources are seriously declining. The impacts of climate change caused a decline in the availability of water, especially safe drinking water. Moreover, for the past five years over a million Rohingya people residing in the camps have been consuming surface water which led to a depletion of surface water. There being no rain for months, rainwater harvesting was not possible in the community nor in the camps. The drop in the intake of water by the vulnerable communities including the Rohingya people is extremely disturbing for us. Children in Camps 26 and 27, those I visited, were suffering from skin diseases of multiple nature. Women were not willing to speak about the impact of lack of drinking water and how they were forgoing drinking of water!
This is an open call to all that we prioritise the water crisis caused by climate injustice. Solutions are what one is soliciting for.