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Climate change is driving rural-to-urban migration in Bangladesh

Rural-to-urban migration in Bangladesh has traditionally been in response to the pull of better job opportunities, but it is now being pushed by conditions resulting from climate change. Yields for agricultural produce are falling; there were 14 reported food shortages from 1998 to 2008. The increased rate of rural-to-urban migration has resulted in lower rural poverty rates, but it is compounding urban poverty and taking a toll on urban infrastructure, with santitation being the hardest hit. In addition, Bangladesh lacks reliable weather forecasting, reporting, and information dissemination capacities, which could help to better prepare rural residents for potentially dangerous weather events.

"Climate change and natural hazards are at the root of Bangladesh's inability to deal effectively with poverty and development issues. Bangladesh's dependence on agriculture and its largely rural population are facing tremendous challenges where improvements in rural poverty levels are offset by increases in urban poverty."

IFTF implications: with the accellerating effects of climage change, urban centers in Bangladesh can expect an even greater influx of climate refugees and even more strain on local sanitation capacities. As more people leave the farms for the cities, food production will continue to decline, possibly resulting in food shortages and perhaps even food riots.

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Searchlight South Asia, March 2010, page 3