Place for All Sea­sons

The coun­try could put its cli­mate ad­van­tage to bet­ter use.

Southasia - - CONTENTS - By Mahrukh Fa­rooq

Bangladesh has oc­cu­pied the news s for rea­sons many now have, un­for­tu­nately, largely be­gun to as­so­ciate with the coun­try. A rapidly de­te­ri­o­rat­ing law and or­der sit­u­a­tion com­pounded fur­ther by mas­sive po­lit­i­cal in­sta­bil­ity – which is a di­rect re­sult of a war be­ing waged at the public’s ex­pense be­tween the two ‘bat­tling be­gums’, Khaleda Zia and Sheikh Hasina – has caused the coun­try to plunge into deeper chaos. With such a state of af­fairs, it is no won­der then that most peo­ple easily lose sight of the many won­ders the coun­try has to of­fer.

Bangladesh sports an en­vi­able ecol­ogy with a long sea coast­line, nu­mer­ous rivers and trib­u­taries, lakes, wet­lands and forests that are ever­green or semi-ever­green and grow over the hills or in fresh­wa­ter swamps. The Bangladesh plain is fa­mous for its ex­tremely fer­tile soil. As a re­sult, the coun­try has lush veg­e­ta­tion, fea­tur­ing a range of fruits such as mango, jack­fruit, bam­boo, be­tel nut, co­conut and date palm. The land in­cludes nearly 6000 species of plant life, among them, nearly 5000 flow­er­ing plants. The coun­try is also home to the Sun­dar­bans, the world’s largest man­grove for­est, which spans an area of up to 6000 square kilo­me­tres.

Amidst such abun­dant green­ery, wildlife in Bangladesh has thrived. Cur­rently, a vast num­ber of an­i­mals in­habit a to­tal area of 150,000 square kilo­me­tres, with the Ben­gal tiger, the clouded leop­ard, the salt­wa­ter crocodile, the Black pan­ther and the fish­ing cat be­ing its chief preda­tors in the Sun­dar­bans. The coun­try also has nu­mer­ous species of am­phib­ians, rep­tiles, marine rep­tiles and mam­mals and up to 628 species of birds.

Per­haps the most awe-in­spir­ing and ex­tra­or­di­nary fea­ture of Bangladesh is its trop­i­cal sea­sons. Un­like the usual four sea­sons around the world, Bangladesh is per­haps the only coun­try to have six sea­sons through­out the year. These are Grisma (sum­mer), Barsa (rain), Sarat

(au­tumn), Me­manta (late au­tumn), Sheetkal (win­ter) and Bas­anta (spring). Each of these sea­sons is re­lated to the grow­ing of the coun­try’s cash crops. Most of these sea­sons can be grouped into 3 broad cat­e­gories: - The hot and dry pre-mon­soon sea­son from March to May - The rainy mon­soon sea­son from June to Oc­to­ber - The cool and dry win­ter sea­son from Novem­ber to Fe­bru­ary The new year for Bangladesh be­gins on April 14 in the month of Boishakh which rep­re­sents the be­gin­ning of Grisma. A warm sum­mer pe­riod when rice and jute are cul­ti­vated, Grisma runs be­tween the months of Boishakh and Joishtho, mid-April to mid-June.

Dur­ing Bor­sha, the months of Ashar and Shrabon, mid-June to mid-Au­gust, there is a mas­sive down­pour of rain, lead­ing to the har­vest­ing of crops.

Sharad marks the end of the mon­soon rains in the months of Bhadro and Ashshin, mid-Au­gust to mid-Oc­to­ber. Jute is col­lected and pro­cessed at this time.

He­monto, the months of Kar­tik and Ogro­hayon, mid-Oc­to­ber to mid-De­cem­ber, brings a pe­riod of cooler weather when veg­etable crops are planted.

Sheet is the coolest sea­son of the year. Dur­ing the months of Sheet, Poush and Magh, mid-De­cem­ber to mid-Fe­bru­ary, fresh fruit and veg­eta­bles are abun­dant.

Fal­goon and Choitro are the last two months of the year, mid-Fe­bru­ary to mid- April. This is the sea­son of Boshonto, when the last of the sheetkal crops are har­vested and flow­ers blos­som.

Since Bangladesh is a ma­jor agri­cul­tural pro­ducer, par­tic­u­larly in the global pro­duc­tion of rice (4th), fish­eries (5th), jute (2nd), tea (10th) and trop­i­cal fruits (5th), such an un­usual cli­mate has in fact greatly con­trib­uted to the growth of the crops. In a nor­mal year, a great part of Bangladesh is flooded, which ul­ti­mately pro­duces rich al­lu­vial soils from which to grow next year’s har­vests.

Much of Bangladesh’s rather un­usual cli­mate has a con­sid­er­able im­pact on the lifestyles of the peo­ple. With such a vari­a­tion in weather sea­sons, Bangladeshis are par­tic­u­larly prone to freak cli­matic changes, such as floods, cy­clones and trop­i­cal storms. These con­di­tions have, there­fore, made the peo­ple ex­tremely adapt­able to chal­lenges brought about by such changes.

How­ever, in spite of the coun­try’s neg­li­gi­ble con­tri­bu­tion to the ef­fects of global warm­ing as well as its im­proved ca­pac­ity to deal with in­creased dis­as­ters, the im­pact caused by cli­matic changes can still prove to be cat­a­strophic, par­tic­u­larly to its coastal ar­eas. Bangladesh is one of the top 10 coun­tries in the world that are most vul­ner­a­ble to cli­mate change, ac­cord­ing to the Global Cli­mate Risk In­dex (CRI) -2011 re­port. The U.S agency NASA went so far as to pre­dict that Bangladesh was all set to dis­ap­pear un­der the waves by the end of the cen­tury. Ac­cord­ing to a re­cent study, if the sea level rises by just 1 me­tre, 20 mil­lion peo­ple stand to be dis­placed. In ad­di­tion, in­creased salin­ity in coastal ar­eas as well as se­vere flood­ing in the coun­try’s ma­jor rivers is al­ready be­gin­ning to take ef­fect.

In or­der to mit­i­gate the pos­si­bly dam­ag­ing ef­fects of these changes, mea­sures to be im­ple­mented by the gov­ern­ment and the in­ter­na­tional com­mu­nity, as pro­posed by a re­search pa­per ti­tled, Im­pact of Cli­mate Change in Bangladesh: The Role of Public Ad­min­is­tra­tion and Gov­ern­ment’s In­tegrity from the Jour­nal of Ecol­ogy and the Nat­u­ral En­vi­ron­ment, in­clude the im­prove­ment of sur­veil­lance and a pri­mary health in­for­ma­tion sys­tem in or­der to fa­cil­i­tate the shar­ing of adap­ta­tion strate­gies of lo­cal com­mu­ni­ties on a larger scale. Chan­nels of com­mu­ni­ca­tion must be es­tab­lished be­tween Bangladesh and mem­bers of the in­ter­na­tional com­mu­nity. This can be done through the plat­form of SAARC. The gov­ern­ment, in­ter­na­tional agen­cies, non-gov­ern­men­tal or­ga­ni­za­tions (NGOs), mem­bers of the civil so­ci­ety and aca­demics from all dis­ci­plines need to de­vise an ad­vo­cacy and public health move­ment that helps in the re­duc­tion of green house gas emis­sions. Such ef­forts could also bring about an in­crease in car­bon biosques­tra­tion through re­for­esta­tion and im­proved agri­cul­tural prac­tices which would ul­ti­mately slow down global warm­ing and sta­bi­lize tem­per­a­tures.

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