Life without land is like living afloat in the water

This feeling of helplessness and isolation is a growing perspective in Bangladesh


Bangladesh is one of the most vulnerable countries in the world to natural disasters with its increasingly divergent population-to-land ratio, including those caused by climate change.

As Bangladesh’s population grows at a natural steady rate above 1%, nearly 100 sq km every year is lost due to riverbank erosion caused by rising sea levels.

In December 1990, the United Nations General Assembly decided to continue observing World Population Day and magnify awareness of population issues, including in areas such as environment and development. Bangladesh’s disparity in population and land is a logistical nightmare that exacerbates human rights issues.

Women suffer during times of crisis. During conflicts, natural disasters, and public health emergencies, sexual and reproductive health is often overlooked. Pregnant women risk life-threatening complications without access to delivery and emergency obstetric care services. Women and girls may lose access to family planning services, exposing them to unintended pregnancy in perilous conditions. Women and girls also become more vulnerable to sexual violence, exploitation, and HIV infection.

Addressing gender-based violence is a priority for the United Nations Population Fund. As a primary and critical area of intervention, the UNFPA targets the following areas: sexual and reproductive health, gender equality, the rights of adolescent girls, and the generation of high-quality population data to drive evidence-based programs. This aid and attention are vital in Bangladesh, where 18% of the land is flooded annually and hundreds of thousands are displaced, some permanently. UNFPA Bangladesh delivered dignity kits and essential sexual and reproductive health supplies to 5,955 women, including transgender women, and 4,500 menstrual health management kits to adolescent girls. UNFPA also equipped three district hospitals with post-rape and clean delivery kits in advance of predicted severe floods.

In dealing with the complexities that come with a growing population in a shrinking land, it is not uncommon for a governing body to enact reactionary policy responses, which can be extremely harmful if they violate rights, health, and choices. To better respond to local needs, the relevant communities need to recognize the minorities, the isolated, and the oppressed. Being aware of these issues is the first step towards safeguarding the most vulnerable people in one of the most vulnerable countries, Bangladesh.

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