Manta Community

Manta Community at Char Mantaj of Rangabali Upazila, Patuakhali, Bangladesh

I travelled Char Mantaj, the last southern island of Rangabali Upazila of Patuakhali district on 27 September 2022 to conduct climate and disaster vulnerability and readiness assessment with CPE team. The story has been developed from the observation of the study sideline.

I see that women with their children are living in boats, somebody cooks food on there at Char Mantaj, the last southern island of Bangladesh.  They are `Manta’ folks who spent their whole lives in boats. I knew little about them. I read some articles about them. After returning to Dhaka from Char Montaj, I searched for the articles on the `Manta’ community. Approximately 500 plus families are in `Manta’ community in Patuakhali district, these articles say. `Manta families’ float around the rivers of Char Mantaj. They are also found in the southern rivers, char and statuaries, particularly in Panpotty, Golachipa, Kalaiya, Boga, Bodnatali, Ulania, Patuakhali Sadar region. We also found such a family near the Goinkhali Launch Ghat of Rangabali during our journey from Char Momodarbunia Sluice Gate to Char Mantaj by launch. 

Manta Community near Goinghat Launch Jetty
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Statement of UN Envoy and Mis-, Dis-, Mal- Information

In a statement on 15 September 2022, at the end of a 10-day visit to Bangladesh, Mr. Ian Fry, UN Special Repporteur on the protection and promotion of human rights in the context of human rights said, “I visited some of the most adversely affected regions of Bangladesh and it is clear to me that the burden of climate change should not be carried by Bangladesh alone. For too long, major emitting countries have denied their responsibility for the suffering they are causing. This must end. The major greenhouse emitting countries have a clear obligation under the international law to provide funding to help highly vulnerable countries like Bangladesh to recover from the impact of climate change.” 

In the same statement he said, “I received a statement of claims from the environment and climate change human rights defenders that they have been subject to harassment and imprisonment due to speaking out against climate change issues. It was claimed that there was `shrinking local space’ for public comment. A number of incidents were reported to me where environmental and climate change human rights defenders have been arrested or harassed by authorities for protesting against the development of new coal-fired power stations and other climate-change unfriendly developments. I have also heard of incidents of death threats made against environmental human rights defenders by ‘unknown’ people. This intimidation by persons possibly linked to the Government does not auger well for a nation striving to position itself positively in the international arena on climate change.”

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The disappointing news of G20 climate talks

G20 climate talks in Bali, Indonesia have been unable to agree a joint communique, amid objections over language used on climate targets and the war in Ukraine, the media report said. Although Indonesia’s Environment Minister Siti Nurbaya Bakar had started the meeting by urging countries to cut emissions and prevent the planet from being pushed to a point “where no future will be sustainable”, but some countries, including China, had objected to previously agreed language in the Glasgow climate pact and past G20 agreements on efforts to limit global average temperature rises to 1.5 degrees Celsius, said an official with knowledge of the meeting, declining to be identified because they were not authorized to speak to the media, reports Reuters.

FEBRUARY 19, 1988 | DHAKA ——– ——– MARCH 20, 2022 | DHAKA
The growth of the city is evident in the Landsat images above. The Thematic Mapper on Landsat 5 captured the first image on February 19, 1988; the Operational Land Imager (OLI) on Landsat 8 captured the second on March 20, 2022. Source: earthobservatory.nasa.gov

The report of NASA on Bangladesh, which is one of the most vulnerable country to climate change, came into view while reading the disappointing news of G20 talks. It seems, we are running towards a mirage. The world is demanding solution, but the leaders are busy in debate and commitment, then everything goes in about empty. Although the G20 emits 75 percent of the world’s greenhouse gases, they are not participating in the reduction process properly. Financing discussions are not getting much importance, and finance is not being given as per their commitment. The whole discussion is turning into a stalemate.

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ACTION ALERT! BREAK THE SILENCE

A female student of a private university along with her two friends who were waiting at Norshingdi Railway Station for a Dhaka-bound train on May 18, was subjected to physically assault and abusive words for wearing a sleeveless T-shirt. The attackers termed the dress code “vulgar / obscene clothing”. A middle-aged woman, later law enforcers arrested her and her name was known – Shila Akhter alias Marzia Akhter Shila alias Saima first started hurling abusive words at the victim and then some male joined her and started assaulting the girl. The terrified women ran and took shelter in the station master’s room to save herself from the angry mob. Receiving the call at 999 from the victim, the law enforcers rescued them and helped them board a Dhaka-bound train. From the following day, a video of the incident went viral on social media where netizens expressed anger and women’s rights organizations protested over the harassment and demanded the attackers be arrested. Finally, law enforcers arrested Shila Akhter at the end of the month of May. 

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PROFIT OVER PLANET AND PEOPLE

Ashar and Srabon – these two months are the rainy season in the Bangla calendar. During this time, there will be rains, people will suffer, and water will overflow in canal-beel-pond-rivers. Farmers will have a busy time planting seeds in mud covered crop fields. And nature will be fresher. This is the character of monsoon. But for the last few years that character is no longer seen. Now heat wave has taken place during the monsoon. Sometimes it rains a little, but the nature burns with the intensity of summer. Even during full monsoons, the temperature rises to 35 degrees Celsius. And it is predicted to increase further by the Meteorological Department.

The amount of rainfall is less in the entire monsoon season. According to the sources of the Meteorological Department, in the month of July, Dhaka Division received 116 mm of rain, Chittogram Division 232 mm, Mymensingh 204 mm, Rajshahi 138 mm, Rangpur 299 mm, Khulna 120 mm, Barisal 220 mm and Sylhet maximum 531 mm. Meteorologists say that global warming is affecting the climate. So we see negative behavior in nature.

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LOOKING BACK FOR THE FUTURE

Today I read news on research on commitment to national development: education, decent employment, gender equality, conducted by the renowned think tank `Centre for Policy Dialogue – CPD’, published in the renowned and popular Bangla newspaper `the daily Prothom Alo’. The news, facts and awareness of people are totally frustrating. Thousands of NGOs have been working to create awareness of the people for claiming their rights for 50 years after the independence of the country, but the news put eyes on fruitless results, indicating that most of the citizens weren’t able to inform their demands or needs to the election candidates, but some able to speak with the local policy makers on the local problems directly.

Maybe there was something more in the research, but the news missed the major findings or grabbed only the minor news items, or provocative items for increasing popularity. The next parliamentary election will be held at the end of the following year and, obviously, we should talk about a free, fair and participatory election to strengthen democracy as well as establish the principles of our independence in 1971. But if we try to put all our focus only on the next election, it will be horrible and, unfortunately, the newspapers are showing more interest in the horrible approaches that should also be reviewed.

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CAUTION TO FALLING INTO DISASTER TO OVERCOME DANGER

Motorcyclists are angry about not getting oil at the petrol pump

The people were going to bed yesterday with frustration cautioning another price hike of daily commodities and essentials due to government declaration to increasing fuel prices abnormally last night. The government increased the price of fuel by a jump from BDT 34 to BDT 46 per litre suddenly. The diesel price was increased by BDT 34 to BDT 114 per litre, octane by BDT 46 to Tk.135 and petrol by BDT 44 to BDT 130. Price of fuels has increased in international market and the counties including South Asia are adjusting it regularly; Bangladesh is also adjusting it now too for lowering the loss of Bangladesh Petroleum Corporation.

When price of diesel was 170 dollars, we did not adjust the price then. I was waiting, hoping for the situation to improve. In general, BPC starts incurring losses whenever fuel price goes higher than 79 dollars per barrel. The price went up as high as 170 dollars a barrel. BPC then told me, “Sir, we want to adjust the prices.” If we adjusted the prices then, diesel price would go up from Tk 80 per litre to Tk 160 per litre. I told BPC to wait a while and then adjust the prices. BPC has already incurred losses of over Tk 8,000 crore from its own funds.
– Nasrul Hamid, The state minister for power, energy and mineral resources. Courtesy: The Daily Star

Due to the Russia-Ukraine war, the price of fuel oil became unstable in the world market, as a result the exchange rate between dollar and taka was also affected, in which BPC had to count losses. Due to the high price of fuel oil in neighboring countries, there was a risk of smuggling. BPC’s loss from February to July this year was about Tk 9000 crore due to price hikes in the world market. It is in this context that the government has been forced to adjust the prices.
– Obaidul Quader, The Road Transport and Bridges Minister, Courtesy: The Prothom Alo

A few days ago, the ministry of agriculture increased the fertilizer (Urea) prices by BDT 6 to BDT 22 per kg. Hearing to soaring the fertilizer prices, the feeder folks of the nation, the farmers ‍dumbfounded and beat their foreheads for becoming a misfortunate of the nation. The ministry of agriculture defended by arguing that the current price of urea fertilizer is BDT 81 in international market and the government will have to provide a subsidy of BDT 59 per kg even after increasing the prices by BDT 6. By selling the grain at less than cost of production the farmers purchase irrigation in rainy session with increasing prices, now they have to pay more prices for fertilizer. Who will calculate the subsidies given by farmers each year for increasing agricultural production to ensure food security of the nation?

Agriculture will be affected due to increase in fuel oil prices. But the farmers will cultivate even it it is difficult. Because the farmers are sacrificers. They also cultivate by selling their wife’s neclances and earrings. They sell cows and goats and buy fertilizers to grow crops.”
– Dr. Abdur Razzak, Minister of Agriculture
Courtesy: Bangla Tribune

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DIGITAL BANGLADESH TO SMART BANGLADESH

Bangladesh formulated its vision 2021 to build `Digital Bangladesh’. At the end of vision 2021, Bangladesh is going to enter in new era with a new vision to build `Smart Bangladesh’. Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina at the third meeting of task force of `Digital Bangladesh’ held on 4th April 2022 spoke about `Smart Bangladesh Vision 2041’ to build `Smart Bangladesh’ by 2041. In order to build a knowledge based economy and innovative nation as well as `Smart Bangladesh, she asked to renamed the `Tasks Force of Digital Bangladesh’ to `Tasks Force of Smart Bangladesh’ at that meeting.

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Training on Social Action Plan of Volunteers

A 3 days long training session conducted among youth volunteers of Youth Conservations Crops (YCC) of US Forest Service, Bangladesh at Cox’ bazar during 19-21 July 2022. Total 40 participants from different segment of the society with different mindsets participated in the training session.

Participants Identity and Mindset

Assessing the identity, culture and mindsets of the participants, the training courses are re-set targeting to increase awareness, collaboration, accountability, innovation and engagement of the participants. The sessions are presented in such way that they can connected the course contents with their own social lives and experiences. Most of the session are conducted through game, story telling, groupwork and discussion on slide presentation.

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Northeastern Flash Flood, May-June 2022

A report on North Eastern Flash Flood, May-June 2022 released yesterday by Need Assessment Working Group, Bangladesh which said 7.2 millions people of 9 districts (Sunamganj, Sylhet, Hobiganj, Moulovibazar, Mymensingh, Sherpur, Brahmanbaria, Kishorganj and Netrokona) of North-Eastern Part of Bangladesh have affected and 481,827 people have temporally displaced during the recent floods caused by heavy rains in the northeastern region and upstream Indian State Assan and Meghalaya. Kurigram District also inundates, but the report does not cover the district.

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Need to increase utilization of Climate Funds

Not sufficient, but government allocates some budgetary amounts related to climate change to 25 ministries and to the Environment, Forest and Climate Change Ministries; unfortunately the ministries are not are not able to utilize these allocated amount. If we analyze the government budget, we will find out a huge differences between the actual expenditure and the budgetary allocations. In FY2019-20, there was budgetary allocation , amounted Tk. 787.24 crore Taka for climate change of Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change, but the ministry has utilized only Tk. 436.16 crore. The ministry couldn’t able to expend Tk.351.08 crore. The unutilized budgetary allocation was Tk. 147.49 crore in FY 2020-21. The climate budget of the ministry was Tk.542.57 crore for FY 2021-22, it has revised in Tk.582.62 crore in present budget session. The expenditure report tells us that the ministry has expended about 50 percent of climate allocation for FY 2021-22. So, The trends of the expenditure gives us a sign to failure again to utilize the allocated budget. The government also allocates climate budget to 25 ministries. The expenditure report of 25 ministries are not satisfactory also. There was unitize amount was Tk.4,407.04 crore in FY 2020-21, Tk.5,749.96 crore in FY 2019-20 and Tk.1293.9 crore in FY 2019-20. (Ref. Climate Budget Utilization Report by Prodip K. Roy).

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What we expect from COP26

In the run-up to the 26th session of the talks of United Nations Climate Conference (COP26) in Glasgow, United Kingdoms (UK) that were launched in Rio de Janeiro in 1992, the government of the world’s richest countries are now making ever-lauder claims that they are effectively confronting global warming by pledging to attain `Net Zero’ greenhouse gas emissions by 2050 (the USA, UK and Europe) or 2060 (China).

About 50 thousand people around the globe would be emitted about 50 to 70 thousands tCO2e for their travel, are preparing to attend the conference to negotiate ambitious emission reduction. The developing nations, particularly the climate vulnerable nations with poor economic conditions which are contributing least to the global warming and suffering the most from its effects will demand climate finance, particularly forgotten promises of riches, made more than a decade ago, to provide $100 billion per year to support adaptation with climate change.

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In the climate finance universe, programs and policies should align

Eight hundreds family of Mollar Char union and four hundreds families from Kamarjani Union, surrounded by river of Sadar Upazila of Gaibandha has migrated elsewhere losing their homestead, assets, lives and means of livelihoods due to river erosion of mighty Bramhaputra. People of coastal region including Padmapukur and Gabura union of Shymanagar of Satkhira and Dakhin Bedkashi, Uttar Bedkashi, Koyra Sadar union of Koyra Upazila of Khulna has also been suffering from coastal river erosion since year after year and force to migrate other regions only for survival.

The article published in climate tribune on 26 december 2020

The intensity and frequency of cyclones, floods and climatic hazards are increasing due to climate change, the experts say. Recognising the facts of climate change, the government has adopted different policy measures like BCCSAP, NAPA, Climate fiscal framework, Country climate investment plan etc and programmes like BCCTF, allocation of fiscal budget in climate change adaptation. But are these policies and programme protecting the people of Kamarjani, Mollar Char, Padmapukur, Gabura, Bedkashi and Koyra Sadar Union?

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Webinar: Global Climate Action Day

#FIGHTCLIMATEINJUSTICE
The coming months and years will be crucial in ensuring a safe pathway below 1.5°C increase in global mean temperature, a target stated in the Paris Agreement. If we are to minimise the risks of triggering irreversible chain reactions beyond human control, we need to act now. It is therefore vital that the climate crisis doesn’t get forgotten in the shadow of the coronavirus but is regarded as the utmost priority. Fridays For Future will keep protesting as long as exploitation of nature is allowed to continue. The form of protest will be adjusted according to local Covid-19 conditions and in places where physical action will be taking place, participants will be asked to take precautions to prevent the spread of the virus. In cases where physical protest is inappropriate, we will instead turn to digital action.
- FRIDAYS FOR FUTURE

Greta Thunberg is a Swedish environmental activist who has gained international recognition for promoting the view that humanity is facing an existential crisis arising from climate change and her organization `Fridays for Future’ asked to observe the school children and youths to observe “Global Climate Action Day” on 25 September 2020 to act on the climate crisis.

As part of the call and connecting the youth volunteers to the global activism, Campaign for Sustainable Rural Livelihoods – CSRL and Jalbayu Parishad (Climate Council) convened a online discussion with youth volunteers, working at Koyra, Shyamnagar and Gaibanhda today. Shoeb Chowdhury from CSRL moderated the discussion.

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Global cooperation for protecting planet and humankind

Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina virtually addresses the high-level roundtable event held on the sidelines of the 75th United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) on Thursday, September 24, 2020 

Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina on Thursday placed a five points actions for global leaders at the high level roundtable on climate change held at the 75th United Nations General Assembly (UNGA@75) to protect the planet and humankind from the adversities of the climate changes.

Five points action for global leaders:
1. Increase international cooperation to protect the planet and mankind;
2. Polluting countries must increase their NDCs through necessary mitigation measures and keep global temperatures bellow 1.50C;
3. Implement all articles of the Paris Agreement;
4. Keep the promised funds and make it available to climate vulnerable countries.
5. Recognize the global responsibility for rehabilitation of climate induced displaced people.
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A third of my country was just underwater. The world must act on climate

The climate crisis and Covid-19 are crying out for international cooperation, writes the prime minister of Bangladesh. Courtesy: The Guardian.

One-third of my country was underwater last month. The heaviest rains in almost a decade began and have still not abated. More than 1.5 million Bangladeshis are displaced; tens of thousands of hectares of paddy fields have been washed away. Millions of my compatriots will need food aid this year.

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Youth Action in Climate Adaptation

Most of the disastrous impacts of climate change are expected to be felt within the near future. Young people are particularly vulnerable to the impacts, as they are often on the margins of decision-making and will face the climate change impacts for many more years to come. So it would be unethical to take steps (or not) to mitigate climate change or adapt to the problems without their contributions.

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Resilience and Recovery: Highlighting Solutions for the G20 on Climate and Sustainability

I’ll urge G20 countries to mainstream the issue of losses and damages as in many parts of the world the environmental losses have become permanent and irreparable

Sheikh Hasina, Prime Minister, Government of People’s Republic of Bangladesh

Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina on Tuesday said the G20 has a greater responsibility to come forward with stronger commitment to mobilise global support to address the issue of displacement or climate refugees. “Peace and security of all will largely depend on how we’ll be able to manage this forced displacement of innocent people,” she said. The Prime Minister said this while addressing the “Resilience and Recovery: Highlighting Solutions for the G20 on Climate and Sustainability” virtually from her official residence as keynote speaker organised by F20 Foundations and King Khaled Foundation, reports UNB.

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Riches must bear the burnt of climate change

Radha Rani (36). Husband Krishna Das, a fisherman. Living near of the Brahmaputra river. Fishing is their means of livelihood. She has two sons Lakshman, Phulbabu and two daughters Lakshmi and Swarasati in Gogat village No. 1 of Kamarjani union of Gaibandha. She has lost her home several times due to river erosion caused by floods. About 548 sq km of Gaibandha Sadar, Sundarganj, Fulchhari and Saghata upazilas have been submerged in the river in the last 146 years due to erosion of Teesta and Jamuna rivers including Brahmaputra river. And in this long time, about 4 lakh people of these four upazilas have lost everything due to river erosion. Total 40 districts of Bangladesh has been affected by floods this year during June-August causing a total loss about BDT 6000 crore. The cyclone Amphan occured in 20 May of this year has claimed the financial loss Tk 11.5 billion.

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