Where Kadbanu lives, there is no driveway.
After balancing on three single bamboo poles and crossing a narrow roadway, she reaches her small temporary shack. When Kadbanu stands up, the loft touches her head.
On a rack under the roof, she keeps all the necessary things like plates, glasses, pots and clothes. Every day, Kadbanu takes things from the rack, uses those and later keeps them back in their place again.
"For how long have we been living like this? Five? Or is it six?" asked a middle-aged Kadbanu looking at her son.
After she got married, she lived about 40 miles away from her current place in Lalua, Patuakhali. With time, she has lost her land to coastal erosion. Hence, she is bound to keep migrating from one place to another.
"As I do not have any land, I always have to shift to a place that is already at risk of erosion. Who would let me live on their land?" said Kadbanu, holding up the rack.
In 2018, Groundswell: Preparing for Internal Climate Migration, a report by the World Bank, projected that this South Asia region would have 35.7 million climate migrants by 2050 (around 1.6 percent of the total population). In that report, it read 30 percent of the internal climate migrants would be from Bangladesh.
But the Groundswell report part II revealed even more horrifying information in 2021. This time the number has increased to around 37 percent.
Perhaps, it is easy to think only Kadbanu is the only one suffering from climate change, and others will be spared. On the contrary, UN Secretary-General António Guterres' "code red for humanity" response to a report published in August this year by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) is apt.
In Bangladesh, one of the most vulnerable countries to climate change, its effects are already being felt - from business and tourism to health and education; the effects are already being felt everywhere.
Kuakata and coastal erosion
Even just a year ago at this time, in Kuakata sea beach, there was a hotel named King's Hotel, which was operating its business in full swing. However, coastal erosion has wreaked havoc and left only two of the hotel's pillars intact. The rest is gone.
Shawkat Islam, the hotel manager predicted last year that very soon he would become jobless, and his prediction came true. He left Kuakata last May, after the severe cyclone Yash hit Bangladesh.
The proprietor of King's Hotel shared that he has a Tk50 lakh loss due to the coastal erosion. "I have rebuilt this hotel a few times already. Every year, I kept repairing, but a solution had never been offered. Now, this time I have lost my land too," said Abm Shohidul Islam, owner of King's Hotel.
An embankment will be built to protect Kuakata, but Shohidul believes nothing can save Kuakata until a temporary embankment is prepared at the zero point in Kuakata.
Agreeing with Shahidul, Motaleb Sharif, general secretary of Hotel Malik Samiti and Owner Association, said, "Only an embankment cannot save Kuakata. This year, we have lost 100-feet land due to coastal erosion. If this continues, in five years, Kuakata will disappear and no longer be found on the map."
He continued, "Tourists have already lost their interest in Kuakata. The geo bags have made the beach very ugly and bumpy. No one enjoys walking on the beach now. Climate change resistance efforts are happening in a very wrong way and at a slow pace. However, the erosion is not letting up.
"As a result, it has negatively impacted the tourists by default and narrowed our business."
Saline intrusion, coastal erosion and its perils
It certainly has not created any less impact on health. This year in April, diarrhoea emerged as an acute problem in Barishal. But interestingly at that time, no heavy rainfall or flood occurred.
"We did not understand what was wrong. After a few days, we noticed the salinity rose rapidly in the water of Rabda river into salinity without reason. As locals are dependent on this water source, they become sick," explained Dr Sagir Hossain, assistant community medical officer of Lalua.
In the last 44 years, Bangladesh has experienced a 0.5°C temperature increase.
In the Groundswell Part 2 report, it is said that by 2050, there will be approximately a 1.4°C increase in temperature in Bangladesh. Hence, we are observing drastic changes in seasons. The summers seem hotter and more prolonged; winters are warmer, and the monsoon seasons are extended from February to October.
These erratic weather conditions play a vital role in the sudden outbreak of diseases, said Rezaul Karim Chowdhury, executive director of non-governmental organisation COAST Trust.
The salinity in water generates multiple sorts of health hazards among people, and a few upazilas have started to experience this. RahamanRana, Climate Resilient Health Systems Expert at Adaptation Research Alliance, shared his field visit experience in Dakop and Mongla with The Business Standard.
"Even five years ago, there were not so many disabled people in this region. As per my observation, now 20 percent of people in these areas are disabled. In such a situation, pregnant mothers and newborn babies are at risk," said Rahaman.
The way health is denied in the coastal areas, another primary need for education has also gone unnoticed here. Here, schools become worn out and abandoned after every time a natural disaster hits and is used as shelter. School teachers and students work together to make their institutions look like a school. But only a few academic institutions in the coastal areas actually look like a school.
Due to heavy floods and erosion sometimes, schools need to be shifted or repaired in those areas. It has contributed to increasing the dropout rate of students.
"In 2018, there were 250 students in my school. Now the number is 180. After shifting my school twice, a large number of students dropped out. But do you know where we are now? Again, close to the bank, ready to vanish to the erosion.
"Maybe next year or the following year, my school will be gone. I do not know where I will shift or how many of my students will join us," said Bajendranath Raptan, head teacher of Jhapa Brajabihari United High School, hesitantly.
Though the school in Jhapa is still on the bank, several students can attend the classes now.
In Gabura, GaburaMijaniyaDakhil Madrasa has been closed for nearly a year now. It is flooded even without any flood or high tide. Khalilur Rahman, the madrasa's headmaster, is passing an uncertain time with his 350 students and 10 teachers, and he does not know when the lands will dry up again.
Kadbanu, Shahidul, Khalilur and Bajendranath are merely four examples of the Bangladeshi lives who are already living through the brunt of climate change. Across the country, one can find millions of similar examples, you would just have to look.