Enhanced salinity to displace 2 lakh in Bangladesh coastlines: IFPRI

A new study released by Washington-based International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI) today feared the elevated sea level as the climate change fallout to cause increased soil salinity which alone would force some 200,000 people in Bangladesh coastlines to migrate elsewhere, reports BSS.

“Our study shows increased soil salinity from rising seas will push nearly 140,000 coastal residents to migrate to another location within their district, and nearly 60,000 would move to alternate districts,” IFPRI’s senior research fellow Valerie Mueller said as their report was released from Washington.

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The study, which IFPRI jointly conducted with Ohio State University, said the elevated sea level would submerge many areas in the Bangladesh coasts but was unlikely to displace too many people due to inundation factor alone.

But, the study suggested, the salinity intrusion as the outcome of the phenomenon would have a more severe onslaught on the neighborhoods forcing massive exodus from the coastal areas.

But, the study said, financial constraints would limit poor households from moving over longer distances, “signaling a trapped population dynamic, raising concerns that the most vulnerable households may be the least resilient in the face of climate change”.

The statement said the study titled “Coastal Climate Change, Soil Salinity, and Human Migration in Bangladesh” examined, for the first time, the complex relationship between flooding, soil salinity, rural livelihoods, and migration alongside the probable adaptation strategies.

IFPRI’s Valerie Mueller, also a faculty of Arizona State University and Ohio State University’s Joyce Chen jointly authored the report while previous studies feared that in another 120 years, coastal areas, currently home to 1.3 billion people, are projected to be inundated by sea level rise.

The IFPRI study was released while a recent United Nation’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s (IPCC) report reiterating Bangladesh’s extreme vulnerability to climate change and warning that the country would lose most economically due to the phenomenon.

The IFPRI study said many households by now started moving to aquaculture to offset the loss from crop production income and “households who are already engaged in both crop production and aquaculture heavily rely on the latter to buffer adverse environmental conditions”.

The statement said due to rise in soil salinity, Chittagong and Khulna districts, which contains the country’s second and third largest cities, are likely to witness highest within-district additional migration, estimated between 15,000 and 30,000 migrants per year.

According to the study, soil salinity reduces total annual crop revenue: households facing moderate saline contamination earn almost taka 5,000 or 21 percent less in crop revenue each year, compared to households facing only mild soil salinity. Researchers didn’t find any significant effect of flooding on crop revenue.

The study suggested the intensified government efforts to incentivize individuals that live in key vulnerable areas to relocate may be necessary, especially to detract movement away from population-dense areas.

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