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বাংলা
Dhaka Tribune

Coastal women bear brunt of climate change-induced salinity

  • Miscarriages, waterborne diseases most common effects
  • Exposed to 16g of salt every day
Update : 16 Feb 2024, 06:31 PM

Climate change-induced salinity has been a major issue in Bangladesh for years, and the impact is most evident among women residing in the coastal regions of the country. 

In addition to experiencing skin and respiratory diseases, these women face challenges related to their reproductive health.

Mongla upazila in the Bagerhat district is one of the areas feeling the impact of climate change-induced salinity. 

The lack of safe drinking water exacerbates various health issues such as miscarriages, waterborne diseases, hypertension, respiratory infections, and diarrheal diseases.

Mongla resident Sumi Akter told Dhaka Tribune she has been suffering from a urinary tract infection from constantly drinking saline water.

She mentioned that it is recommended that the human body consume 5g of salt each day, but the people living in Mongla upazila are exposed to over 16g. 

“It is a very troubling situation for the women living here. Due to the saline water, women face difficulty in getting pregnant and have miscarriages frequently,” she said.

Sumi added that her sister is seven months pregnant and also suffers from a urinary tract infection. “She is having a difficult time. Moreover, newborns in the area often suffer from severe malnutrition.”

Another woman, Kakoli Mondol, said: “Women, in general, rely heavily on water for cooking, washing dishes, and clothes. However, here, we are forced to bathe in saline water, worsening issues with our reproductive organs, particularly for those already suffering from urinary tract infections. Additionally, many of us do not drink enough water due to its scarcity, leading to further health complications.”

Brac initiatives

A total of 1,512 members across 54 Climate Action Groups (CAG) have been empowered to spearhead local climate initiatives within the communities in Mongla upazila. These groups play a vital role in raising awareness about climate change within the upazila, with support from Brac. 

Shah Alam, a member of CAG, told Dhaka Tribune women living in these areas face a lot of difficulties due to the water issue. “We need to be more conscious about it.”

He further mentioned that the installation of Brac tanks has provided relief to 210 out of 450 families in the upazila. 

However, despite this improvement, certain issues and challenges persist. “We have endured significant problems during the dry season, especially the women. Now, we hope Brac’s water tanks will help us to have safe drinking water.”

Kakoli Mondol, who is also a member of CAG, talked about Brac’s water tanks.

“During these critical moments, Brac's water harvesting tanks have helped us. My son once suffered from bacillary dysentery due to consuming salty pond water, which we attempted to purify using alum. Brac’s water tanks have helped us from that labour,” she said.

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