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Experts: Understanding of Hydro-societal processes essential for tackling migration issues

  • Published at 01:22 am January 10th, 2019
5th Gobeshona International Conference_Mahmud Hossain Opu
Participants at a session of the 5th Gobeshona International Conference, being held at Independent University in Dhaka from January 8-11 Mahmud Hossain Opu/Dhaka Tribune

The comments were made during a session on the second day of the 5th Gobeshona International Conference, organized by the International Centre for Climate Change and Development (ICCCAD) at the Independent University in Dhaka

An understanding of hydro-societal processes is essential to address migration issues, and such processes should be taken into consideration when formulating future migration programs and policies, researchers and academicians said on Wednesday.

The comments were made during a session on the second day of the 5th Gobeshona International Conference, organized by the International Centre for Climate Change and Development (ICCCAD) at the Independent University in Dhaka. The session, titled “Hydrology and societal processes: Is migration an opportunity?” was hosted by the Bangladesh Centre for Advanced Studies (BCAS).

In his presentation at the session, Hasan Ashraf, assistant professor of anthropology at Jahangirnagar University,said the Dhaka Water Supply and Sewerage Authority (DWASA) had to dig tube wells that were 550ft deep to access fresh ground water in 2005, but the increasing population of Dhaka and resulting increase in demand for watermeant tube wells of a depth of 1,100ft had to be dug in 2017.

 “At least 1.5 million rickshaw-pullers are working in Dhaka city. Every day, they consume a minimum 30 glasses of water each. With such high demand for water in the city, it is clear that we need to understand hydro-societal processes before evaluating the push and pull factors that brought them to the capital,” he said.

During a panel discussion, ICCCAD Director Dr Saleemul Huq said: “We cannot tell people not to come to Dhaka. We may create opportunities to attract them to other cities.”  

Amanda Carrico, assistant professor at Colorado University, in her presentation said she found temperature causes migration more than rainfall does in the Southern part of Bangladesh.

Researcher Dr Bissawjit Mallick said vulnerable people should only look into migration opportunities, if stay at their places of origin was not possible.

Basundhara Tripathy Furlong, a PHD researcher, in her presentation said:"Although most researchers focus on international migrants, we must be aware that domestic migrants are almost three times in number. The focus therefore should be on internal migrants. In many cases, the place of destination is not directly chosen by the migrant but depends on their social networks and ties. Mapping these networks will help us understand that migration flows in a climate sensitive context." 

Experts said the main reason for people migrating from the south of the country was increasing salinity of ground water due to cyclones and human activity, while droughts serve as a driver for migration from the north. The search for livelihood also drove many to migrate to Dhaka.

BCAS Executive Director Dr Atiq Rahman chaired the session, while BCAS fellow Dr Abu Syed served as moderator.