When it comes to media, Bangladesh boasts some impressive statistics: it has the largest number of outlets among the world’s least developed countries (LDCs), including 50 nationwide dailies, of which eight are English-language newspapers; 25 television channels; seven FM radio stations; 14 community radio channels and over 300 regional magazines published in English and Bengali.
Bangladesh, a country of 150 million people who depend on rice as their main staple, is gearing up for drought. Already huge areas of the rice-producing regions are on a knife's edge, as elusive rains and hotter temperatures team up on thirsty paddy fields and threaten to disrupt food supply.
Shirin Aktar was just 13 years old when her parents decided it was time for her to get married.
“I would never have believed it possible to get a bumper rice harvest during the drought season,” 43-year-old Mohammad Shajahan Ali, a farmer hailing from the village of Magtapur in Bangladesh’s northern Chapainawabganj district, told IPS.
Fahima Begum rises each morning at dawn and walks two kilometres to a small pond, the nearest source of fresh water. On her way she passes the rusty old hand-pumped tube well that used to supply water to her village in Bangladesh’s arid Barind region until the water table here dropped out of reach.
“It was dark and hot with choking dust all around. The air was filled with the smell of decomposing corpses,” recalled Nasima, a 24-year-old factory worker who spent four days buried under the rubble of an eight-storey building that collapsed in a suburb of Bangladesh’s capital Dhaka last month.
Adding to a long list of domestic woes, including a factory collapse that left hundreds dead last month, Bangladesh is now grappling with a wave of violence that threatens to deepen the gulf between secular sections of society and religious fundamentalists.
Adaptation and mitigation. Identified by the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change and by scientists as the two major responses to address the problem, these were also the twin preoccupations of a climate change conference held recently in Dhaka.
“This is a revolution,” declares Mamtaj Jahan Halima, a young law student from Bangladesh’s southwestern Khulna district. “People of all ages, irrespective of religion, caste and culture have united – we have not witnessed such a peaceful uprising since before independence.”
When nine-month-old Borsha was admitted to the International Centre for Diarrhoeal Disease Research in Bangladesh last January, she was on the verge of death.
The sun is just beginning its descent as a knot of farmers gathers around a small, portable radio in the grounds of the Nachol Pilot High School in Bangladesh’s northwestern Chapainawabganj district, about 300 kilometres from the capital, Dhaka.
Monashatoli, a small coastal village of 5,000 residents in Bangladesh’s southwestern Barguna district, located about 470 kilometres south of the capital Dhaka, is a living model of the success of bottom-up community development.
Nearly 50 percent of Bangladesh’s primary school students drop out before they complete fifth grade, as crushing poverty drives them into the informal employment sector.
Scientists predict that in the coming years, Bangladesh will be battered by even more climate disasters than it has already endured. Global warming has caused devastating damage in this lower Himalayan delta country of 150 million people, where seawater intrusion, increasingly intense cyclones, dried up rivers and extreme weather events have become the norm.
In late August, Mohammad Saifuddin (not his real name), together with his wife, three daughters and son, fled the carnage of communal violence in western Myanmar’s Rakhine province and headed for the border of neighbouring Bangladesh.
Bangladesh has begun to shed its image as one of the world’s poorest nations and make a reputation for itself as a major exporter of cheap generic drugs to over 85 countries.
Bangladesh’s achievement in raising exclusive breastfeeding rates for infants under six months from 43 percent to 64 percent, over the last five years, is said to be the result of a determined campaign by government and non-governmental organisations (NGOs).
Bangladesh, often cited as a model of progress in achieving the United Nations Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), appears to be sliding backwards when it comes to dealing with violence against women (VAW).
With the rains over Gopalganj district intensifying each year and much of Baikantapur village permanently waterlogged, Bijoy Kumar Sen had little choice but to abandon traditional rice farming and grow vegetables on bairas – floating islands built of straw and aquatic plants.
Laboni Vhoumik’s lingerie manufacturing unit in the Gopai village of Noakhali district, about 180 km outside the capital, is a forceful argument in favour of the Grameen Bank microcredit model that fosters female entrepreneurship and also relies on it.
Amidst continuing controversy over the World Bank’s recent decision to cancel a 1.2 billion-dollar loan to Bangladesh to assist in the construction of the Padma Bridge – which would have been the country’s largest ever development project, worth 2.9 billion dollars – most locals have expressed deep concern about the impact of such a move on one of the world’s least developed countries