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General Synod: Archbishop hears of climate chaos in Bangladesh

February 07 2012 - Christian Aid partner Joyanta Adhikari addressed the Archbishop of Canterbury and other bishops at a meeting at the General Synod on Tuesday warning of the impending climate catastrophe affecting Bangladesh.

Director of the Christian Commission for Development in Bangladesh, Mr Adhikari warned that 17 million people faced losing their homes if the predicted 1.5 metre rise in sea levels took place by 2050.

The 60-year-old father-of-two explained how his country was already suffering the devastating impact of climate change.

‘All parts of Bangladesh are feeling the effects,’ he said.

‘In the south rising sea level has led to the intrusion of salt water destroying rice paddy fields which are our main source of food.

‘In the north there is drought because of unpredictable and reduced rainfall and the middle of the country suffers from river erosion making river banks, where many people live, unstable and dangerous. 

‘We already have a large number of climate refugees who have been forced out of their homes and most of them have to live by the side of the road or in shanty towns. 

‘People have been forced to move to cities like Dhaka in search of work and in a country of only 147,000 square km and a population of 142 million this leads to social problems.’

He added: ‘Experts are forecasting that if the world doesn’t change course we will see a rise of 1.5 metres by 2050. 

‘If that happens16% of our land will be under water and 17 million people, 15% of the population, will be left homeless. 

‘That is the scale of the catastrophe we are facing.’

In Bangladesh Christians make up only 0.3% of the 142 million population.

Mr Adhikari said support from Christian Aid allows Christians through the CCBD to serve fellow Bangladeshis.

‘Christians are a microscopic minority,’ he said. ‘We don’t normally suffer persecution but significant events in the west and the USA can cause us problems.

‘The CCBD works for all people and is an opportunity for us as Christians to not just help fellow believers but serve the rest of Bangladesh.’

One way the charity is helping the country adapt to climate change is developing a salt-water tolerant variety of rice paddy.  Other tactics include floating gardens of water hyacinths heaped together, covered with soil and used to grow vegetables.  The CCBD also works to raise houses above sea level, supply energy efficient cooking stoves and improve infrastructure such as submerged water pipes contaminated with seawater.

Mr Adhikari said: ‘This world has enough for our need, but not our greed.

‘We are all God’s creation and we have to live responsibly to ensure God’s world is not destroyed.

‘We cannot solve the problem of climate change alone, we need the help of people in other countries to reduce pollution.’

- Ends -

Photographs available:

1. Joyanta Adhikari with Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams.
2. Joyanta Adhikari addressing bishops at a meeting at the General Synod.

If you would like further information please contact Joe Ware on 0207 523 2418 or jware @christian-aid.org.

Notes to Editors:

1. Christian Aid works in some of the world's poorest communities in nearly 50 countries. We act where the need is greatest, regardless of religion, helping people build the lives they deserve.

2. Christian Aid has a vision, an end to global poverty, and we believe that vision can become a reality. Our report, Poverty Over, explains what we believe needs to be done – and can be done – to end poverty.  Details at http://www.christianaid.org.uk/Images/poverty-over-report.pdf

3.  Christian Aid is a member of the ACT Alliance, a global coalition of 100 churches and church-related organisations that work together inhumanitarian assistance and development.  Further details at http://www.actalliance.org

4. Follow Christian Aid's newswire on Twitter: http://twitter.com/caid_newswire

5. For more information about the work of Christian Aid visit www.christianaid.org.uk