Young children are at risk of serious health problems from toxic materials found in toys widely available in the capital city of Bangladesh. A recent study, undertaken by the Environment and Social Development Organisation, identified high levels of lead, cadmium, bromine and chromium in all but one of 40 toys that were analysed. Read more in this December 2013 edition of the Monthly Overview on State of Environment, Bangladesh published by the South Asia Environment Portal.
Bangladesh is one of the most vulnerable countries of climate change facing some basic and major changes in its climatic behaviour and weather pattern. In fact, erratic weather, such as unusually high temperatures, too much or too little rainfall has become a very common feature in Bangladesh and the country has already started experiencing climate-change fallout in different sectors, particularly in agriculture. An international conference held in Dhaka underscored the urgency with which all the stakeholders view the emerging situation.
LAND, AGRICULTURE, GRAZING LANDS AND ANIMAL CARE
Agriculture proved to be profitable to farmers in the northern districts. Farmers of selected areas of eight Northern districts including Gaibandha under Rangpur division in Bangladesh experienced four crops in a land annually through systematic cultivation. Farmers of five upazilas under Gopalganj district in Bangladesh were reported to be cultivating tomato on a large scale because of high financial return from the crop. Similarly the farmers in ten southwestern districts of Bangladesh cultivated winter vegetables on 69,016 hectares of land this year. The Department of Agriculture Extension (DAE) in Bangladesh, has taken up a massive plan to cultivate mustard in all five upazilas of the district during the current Rabi season. Incidences of foot-and-mouth disease in cattle have been acute at different upazilas in Lalmonirhat district in recent times in Bangladesh.
Politicians, academics and experts at an exchange of views in the capital of Bangladesh said that the open pit method for coal mining and thermal power plants would certainly harm the environment and affect the people’s livelihoods. The iron mine project at Pirganj Upazila in Rangpur district of Bangladesh, is now lying in an abandoned state owing to lack of required funds and the negligence of the concerned authority, sources alleged.
WATER RESOURCES AND FISHERIES
Over 1.5m people in five upazilas of Chapainawabganj in Rajshahi region of Bangladesh, are at risk of arsenic poisoning due to contaminated tube well waters. Rajshahi City Corporation in Bangladesh, has planned to conserve 53 natural water-bodies in the city in order to retain its surface water resources for protecting the environment from further degradation. The city corporation has adopted a Tk 206.24-crore uplift project titled ‘Natural Water Bodies Conservation and Development in Rajshahi City’ to attain the cherished goal side by side with protecting the ponds from further dumping.
In Bangladesh, the capital’s noise level, which, according to a study quoted in a New Age report, is two times higher than what is permissible, posing a serious threat to public health, is a matter of grave concern. At least 25 brick kilns in Sylhet district of Bangladesh, are running defying law. The brick kilns set up in residential areas, on agricultural lands, even beside schools, are posing serious health hazards and polluting environment.
FLOODS, DROUGHTS AND NATURAL DISASTERS
A World Bank-supported project titled 'The Bangladesh Urban Earthquake Resiliency Project' has developed the guidebooks and the roadmaps to avert the risk of massive destruction of lives and properties in earthquakes.
Rajshahi City Corporation hosted its ‘Urban Partnership for Poverty Reduction Project (UPPRP)’. Under the scheme, around 1,700 slum households will get block grants valued Tk 65 lakh for promotion of various income generation activities especially small business and goat rearing. The ministry of Power and Energy is reportedly planning to set up seven to ten model solar charging stations for battery-run vehicles in Dhaka city.
WATER SUPPLY AND SANITATION
The Dhaka Water Supply and Sewerage Authority has taken up a plan to manage 70 per cent of its supply water from the surface sources by 2021. The installation of water supply line at Dakkhin Surma in Sylhet city of Bangladesh, began to bring the three wards of this area under drinking water facility coverage. Around 600 ethnic populations have started enjoying arsenic-free safe drinking water in Kalna village in Bangladesh, for the first time as two hand- driven tube-wells were commissioned there around one month ago which are capable to provide water round the year. According to a 2011 World Bank report titled ‘Water and Sanitation Programme’, Bangladesh suffers a financial loss of Taka 30 thousand crore yearly due to inadequate sanitation facilities.
In Bangladesh, the number of street children in the capital and other divisional cities and towns now stands at around two million and their number is on the rise, according to disclosures by UNICEF and IRC (Innovative Research Center) which claimed to have picked up the figure from their field level work.
HEALTH AND OCCUPATIONAL HAZARDS
The recurrence of waterborne disease continues reducing everywhere in the rural areas of Bangladesh, as a result of effective activities being conducted by the concerned government and non-government organisations in recent years. Over 22.60 lakh under five (0- 59 month) babies were administered with oral polio vaccine while observing first round of the 21st National Immunization Day (NID)- 2013 in Rangpur division of Bangladesh, official sources said. At least 53,000 children die every year in Bangladesh due to complications related to malnutrition as the country is exposed to the highest rate of child and maternal malnutrition in the world.
PESTICIDES AND HAZARDOUS PRODUCTS
Young children are at risk of serious health problems from toxic materials found in toys widely available in the capital city of Bangladesh. A recent study, undertaken by the Environment and Social Development Organisation, identified high levels of lead, cadmium, bromine and chromium in all but one of 40 toys that were analysed.
Eight new gas- and fuel oil-based power plants built under public and private sectors are scheduled to go into operation in January next year with an aim of producing 768MW of electricity in Bangladesh. The cabinet committee on economic affairs in Bangladesh, chaired by finance minister AMA Muhith, gave the approval to 110MW and 55MW plants, largely owned by Summit Group in Khulna region. Conventional fluorescent and sodium street lights in eight city corporations in Bangladesh, are going to be replaced by energy-saving light emitting diode (LED) lamps, some to be run by solar power, saving 10 megawatts of electricity per day. The Bangladesh government has decided to build solar power stations for charging batteries of three wheelers like easy bikes and auto-rickshaws.
The migratory guest birds have started arriving to the water bodies, beels, haors and major rivers in northern districts of Bangladesh, from the Himalayan and Siberian regions in the beginning of this winter season.