Thursday, November 27, 2008

climate rally in the Chittagong Hill Tracts, southwestern Bangladesh

Some of the indigenous women taking part in the rally and meeting

Indigenous (or adivashi) communities were among people from Bangladesh’s isolated south-eastern Chittagong Hill Tract Area took part in a mass meeting to voice their concerns about climate change and the impact its having on their native forest lands.

Nearly 1,000 people, mainly indigenous groups, took part in the activity, which included local cultural performances.

Local cultural performances were also on display in between the speeches
Some carried banners calling for indusrialised nations to open their borders so that poor and vulnerable communities adversely affected by climatic changes and forced to move from their lands – or climate refugees – could find alternative and safer locations for their families.

Others held banners calling on the world’s richest countries to drastically cut their greenhouse gas emissions and compensate poor nations like Bangladesh. They urged financial help to allow communities to protect themselves from the negative impacts caused by rising sea levels, including unpredictable weather patterns and flash flooding.

Marginalised indigenous villagers in the Chittagong Hill Tract areas say weather patterns have become unpredictable and flash flooding has increased in recent years, causing land erosion and damaging their crops livelihoods.

“People are already worried about climate change. It affects their livelihoods”, said Arun Kanti Chakma, executive director of the Assistance for the Livelihood of the Origins (ALO), one of the event organizers.

“Already cultivation is being affected, people are not getting good crop production because of irregular rainfall and sometimes very heavy rainfall, or no rain at all. Its become a big problem for us – and people here are already among the most marginalized.”

The climate change protest was organized by Oxfam and its key partner, the Campaign for Sustainable Rural Livelihoods (CSRL), ahead of the United Nations conference on climate change in Poznan, Poland, next month

It’s the latest in a series of large-scale campaign activities across Bangladesh to highlight how climate change is affecting individual communities.


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