Object of Research


Bangladesh is nestled in the crook of the Bay of Bengal, sharing borders with India and Myanmar. It is a country of about
144,000 square kilometres, including rivers and inland water bodies occupying 6.7% of the country’s landmass. Except for
the hill tract regions, the country is largely flat and dominated by the braided strands of the three mighty Himalayan rivers.
Bangladesh is deltaic in origin with a flat terrain and low relief – nearly 50% of the country lies within 5 metres of the mean
sea level (MSL). There are predominantly three types of landscapes in this country: floodplains spread over 80% of the
land area, terraces covering 8% and hills dispersed over 12% of the remaining land area. The country is divided into six
administrative divisions, namely Dhaka, Chittagong, Khulna, Rajshahi, Barisal and Sylhet. The divisions are further subdivided
into 64 districts constituting 460 thanas (administrative divisions) and 85.650 villages. Bangladesh is primarily an agro-based
economy with the primary sector accounting for 33% of the gross domestic product (GDP) and employing 65% of the labour
force. People’s lives and livelihoods are thus intricately linked with nature and its bounties and they harness biodiversity
products such as agriculture and fishery.

Climate and Ecosystem

The climate of Bangladesh is subtropical and tropical with temperatures ranging from an average of 21°C in winter and 35°C
in summer. There are six main identifiable seasons, namely Grishma (summer), Barsha (rainy/monsoon season), Sharat
(autumn), Hemanta (dry season), Sheit (winter) and Bashanta (spring). The tropical climate has made the country luxuriant
in vegetation and it takes pride in hosting the Sundarbans, the largest littoral mangrove forest in the world. Tropical evergreen
forests of the Chittagong Hill Tracts and sal (deciduous forests) also harbour rich pools of genetic reserves. The unique wetland
ecosystem (namely haor, baor, beel and jheel) is also endemic to Bangladesh with a total area of about 8 million hectares.


The total population of Bangladesh is more than 160 millions (in 2009) with a growth rate between 1.4 and 1.8%. The sheer
size of the booming population and resulting consequent demand for goods and services has subjected the country’s natural
resources to overexploitation. Recurrent natural disasters such as floods, erosion and surges have increased the vulnerabilities
of the poor and rural people, further exacerbating the poverty situation. Therefore the country is doubly burdened with the perils
of nature and persistent poverty, malnutrition and illiteracy. In reiterating periods of the monsoon almost one third of Bangladesh
is flooded annually. Inhabitants living in these affected delta areas have learned to deal with this situation but the effects of global
warming unexpectedly mix it all up: heavy rainfalls increase during the monsoon-period, besides that glaciers in the Himalayas
are melting and its water is trying to find its way down to the sea emptying out onto the Bay of Bengal. The latest report of the
Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) from February 2007 indicates that by a rise of sea level of 50 centimetres
at least 5.5 millions of Bangladeshi will face homelessness. Nearly 11% of the country's entire landmass will be lost in this
process. Research results presented this year at the Climate Change Congress in Copenhagen claim that these numbers
are already outdated and were largely underestimated.

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