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Pondering How to Save Bangladesh at Rio+20

Pondering How to Save Bangladesh at Rio+20

After the floods in Hazaribagh, near Dhaka, Bangladesh. Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

Posted by contributor Andres Santamaria.

As the 20th anniversary of the Rio conference approaches, many countries are waiting to be affected by decisions made at this event. Case and point: Bangladesh. In this New York Times Green Blog post, a Q&A held with Thomas Rath, the country program manager for the United Nations International Fund for Agricultural Development project in Bangladesh, explores obstacles facing this country.

Rath informs us that in Bangladesh, “About 35% of the population lives under the poverty line of $1 a day, and about 40 percent, or 60 million people, are completely dependent on agriculture.”  The country’s geography has made it defenseless against typhoons that occur every year, which destroys farmland and severely floods densely populated coastal areas.  Rice is the main crop cultivated in Bangladesh and, for some, the only crop grown. The challenges to growing food in these circumstances has ultimately led to forty percent of children being malnourished.

With climate change on the rise, these disasters are expected to rise exponentially, leaving behind more decimated land. It is predicted that 30 percent of Bangladesh’s land will consistently be underwater.

And, although Mr. Rath is not cynical about the Rio conference, he wants to see a focus on action rather than debate. In order to prevent a surge of refugees knocking on our door for help, we need to ensure that measures are taken not only to benefit these people, but, to make sure that they can be carried on in the future. “We need to find ways to help countries all over Asia to reduce carbon dioxide emissions while at the same time producing enough food to feed their people.” As food insecurity and the effects of climate change rank among the main issues for the people of Bangladesh, time will tell as to what effective solutions the upcoming conference will lay out for the people living there.