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Challenges to Sustainable Development of Bangladesh

1 Population
Bangladesh is the 8th largest country in the world with a population of 142.3 million in 2011 (BBS, Population and Housing Census 2011, Preliminary Results) living in an area of 147,570 sq km. The population density of the country is 964 per sq km that makes it the most populous country in the world with the exception of island nations/territories such as Singapore and Hong Kong. Early policy makers of the country identified population as the number one problem of the country and devised policies and strategies to control population growth. Consequently, the population growth rate declined from 2.48 percent per annum in 1974 to 1.34 percent per annum in 2011.
TFR has decreased from 5.04 in 1981 to 2.15 per woman in 2009 with 2.28 in rural and 1.65 in urban areas (BBS, Report on Sample Vital Registration System – 2009). These are commendable achievements for a least developed country like Bangladesh but it is far from what the country needs to achieve for sustainability particularly social sustainability.More

2 Poverty and Inequality
Poverty reduction has been a priority objective of development of Bangladesh since its emergence as an independent nation in 1971. Starting from the First Five Year Plan (1973-1978) which emphasized poverty reduction through employment generation, all development plans as well as the two poverty reduction strategy papers recognized the importance of poverty reduction and developed policies and strategies for poverty reduction. Consequently, significant reduction in poverty has taken place in the last four decades – the incidence of poverty as measured by headcount rate declined from more than 80 percent in 1973-74 to 31.5 percent in 2010 (BBS, Report on the Household Income and Expenditure Survey 2010). More

4 Environment and natural resource management
Human lives and livelihood in Bangladesh are intricately intertwined with nature. Consequently, no process of development and eradication of poverty can be conceived of without putting caring for environment and sustainable development at the centre stage. On the other hand, as the poor depend heavily on nature for their livelihood, without the whole-hearted involvement of the poor, caring for environment becomes an extremely difficult task. Bangladesh is a signatory of the Multilateral Environmental Agreement by which government is committed to undertake certain environmental management actions which will be largely beneficial to the poor.More

Urbanization as Environmental Issues
Urban areas particularly the big cities including Dhaka have serious pollution problems with respect to solid waste management, growth of slum areas without supply of clean water, and sanitation facilities, with congested living conditions, inadequate drainage system, and untreated industrial waste disposal. Most of these factors affect the urban poor in terms of general hardship, ill-health and even death. As usual it is the women and the children who are the worst victims. Such appalling conditions also adversely affect labour productivity due to disease and morbidity and thus increases vulnerability of the poor. More

Water resources
Even though a water resource is an integral part of economic and social development for Bangladesh, it is very poorly managed. PRSP-2005 has identified the major areas of concern in water resource management as floods, drainage congestion, droughts, cross-boundary flows, river erosion and accretion, cyclones, water quality and rights, surface salinity, groundwater quality, climate change and environmental management.
According to the PRSP-2005 the emerging issues of importance in water resources development and management are: MORE

5 Natural Disaster
Natural disaster is a regular phenomenon in Bangladesh due to its unique geographical location (Himalaya to the north and Bay of Bengal to the south). Key natural disasters are riverine flood, tropical cyclones, droughts, river erosion and earthquake. It is reported that disasters that occurred between 1991 and 2000, resulted in nearly 200,000 deaths and causing US $ 5.9 billion in damages with high losses in agriculture and infrastructure. The direct annual cost to the national economy of natural disasters over the last 10 years (damage and lost production) is estimated to be between 0.5% and 1% of GDP. More

Flood is a regular natural disaster occurring in Bangladesh and thus entailing huge damage to the economy. On average, approximately one quarter of the country is inundated. Once in every 4-5 years, however there is a severe flood that may cover over 60% of the country and cause loss of life and substantial damage to infrastructure, housing, agriculture and livelihoods. In the last 25 years, Bangladesh has experienced five severe floods (Table 2.1), the most damaging one being in 1998 covering more than two-thirds area of the country. More

Cyclone and Storm Surges
The Bay of Bengal is a known breeding ground of tropical cyclone and hit the coastal area of Bangladesh during pre-monsoon (April and May) and post-monsoon (October and November). One of the reasons why it hits Bangladesh coast often is the conical shape of the Bay of Bengal. Over the last 50 years, 15 severe cyclones with wind speed ranging from 140 to 225 km/hr have hit the coastal area of Bangladesh of which 7 hit in pre-monsoon and rest in the post-monsoon season.More

Bangladesh experiences major droughts once in 5 years. Droughts at local scale are much more frequent and affect part of the crop life cycle. The western part of the country is vulnerable to drought during pre-monsoon period. During the last 50 years, Bangladesh suffered about 20 drought conditions. The drought condition in north-western Bangladesh in recent decades had led to a shortfall of rice production of 3.5 million tonnes in the 1990s. If other losses, such as, to other crops (all rabi crops, sugarcane, tobacco, wheat, etc) as well as to perennial agricultural resources, such as, bamboo, betel nut, fruits like litchi, mango, jackfruit, banana etc. are considered, the loss will be substantially much higher.MORE

River bank erosion
Rivers in Bangladesh are morphologically highly dynamic. Erosion processes are highly unpredictable, and not compensated by accretion. These processes also have dramatic consequences in the lives of people living in the erosion prone areas. Around 10,000 hectares land is eroded by river per year in Bangladesh affecting about 1 million people on a yearly basis. Kurigram, Gaibandha, Jamalpur, Bogra, Sirajganj, Tangail, Pabna and Manikganj districts lie in the erosion prone area along Jamuna River. Erosion of total area and settlement is higher along the left bank than that of the right bank. Along Padma River, there are the districts of Rajbari, Faridpur, Manikganj, Dhaka, Munshiganj and Shariatpur. Chandpur on Lower Meghna is also seriously erosion prone.More

Bangladesh and the northeastern Indian states have long been one of the seismically active regions of the world, and have experienced numerous large earthquakes during the past 200 years. The record of approximately 150 years shows that Bangladesh and the surrounding regions experienced seven major earthquakes. The Great Indian earthquake in 1897 and the Srimongal Earthquake in 1918 were the most destructive. In the recent past, a number of tremors of moderate intensity had already taken place in and around Bangladesh. Dhaka city has been suffering from mild tremors in recent times. More

6 Climate change
The climate of Bangladesh is influenced by monsoon climate and characterized by high temperature, heavy rainfall, often-excessive humidity and marked seasonal variations. Although more than half the area is north of the Tropics, the effect of the Himalayan mountain chain is such as to make the climate more or less tropical throughout the year. The climate is controlled primarily by summer and winter winds, and partly by pre-monsoon (March to May) and post-monsoon (late October to November) circulation. The Southwest Monsoon originates over the Indian Ocean, and carries warm, moist and unstable air. The easterly Trade Winds are also warm, but relatively drier. The Northeast Monsoon comes from the Siberian Desert, retaining most of its pristine cold, and blows over the country, usually in gusts, during dry winter months.More