Drought Prone Area and Barind Region

The driest region of the country is the North-west, which has been experiencing recurrent below-average rainfall. Perennial river flows are present in the major regional river systems, but many of the minor rivers lack sufficient flows in the dry period, exposing some regions of Bangladesh to drought. In the past, droughts have affected 47% of the country by area, and about 53% of the population (BanDuDeltAS 2015). Over the past few decades, drought has become a recurrent natural phenomenon in the Barind tract in northwest Bangladesh. This particular region is considered a semi-arid region.

Under climate change, expected rise in temperatures combined with lower and more erratic rainfall during the dry season, is projected to lead to an increase in droughts, especially in the northern and western regions of the country. Increase in droughts will cause soil dryness and hydrological imbalance, resulting in water shortage, groundwater depletion, very low stream flows leading to crop failure, scarcity of fodder for livestock, and scarcity of drinking water.

Climate change is already impacting the livelihoods of the poor who are largely involved in agriculture through the decreasing trends in crop production. Apart from the loss to agriculture, drought also causes abnormal increases in prices, increases the unavailability of jobs, and reduces access to food for rural people, especially the small and landless laborers (Habiba et al. 2012). The most significant problem for agriculture is the constantly decreasing groundwater levels. Besides crops, fish and domestic animals also face severe impacts due to the impacts of climate change. Local people grow fish in the available ponds, but maintaining required water-levels for fish cultivation during drought occurrences is challenging. In addition, domestic animals suffer from malnutrition and dehydration due to the inadequacy of grass and water.

While people of this region have been struggling with extreme temperatures and inadequate rainfall for a long time, malnutrition and sudden weather changes in recent years is increasing the frequency of diarrhea, fever, cough, flux and skin diseases, especially among children. The projected increase in drought intensity and duration, combined with higher temperatures would increase the exposure of the regional population to heat stress and increase their vulnerability in terms of negative impacts on health and food security in the future.