Stories written by Rafiqul Islam

Bangladesh’s Indigenous Forest Dwellers Fear Losing Ancestral Land as Officials Grapple with Land Grabs

When the Bangladesh Forest Department felled Basanti Rema’s banana orchard, Rema, a Garo indigenous forest-dweller of Madhupur Forest, felt she was living a nightmare. Rema, from Pegmari village in Madhupur, Tangail district, had cultivated the banana plants on half an acre in the Madhupur Forest. But the Forest Department claimed that the land on which the bananas were cultivated belonged to the department. 

COVID-19 Pandemic Exacerbates Domestic Workers’ Plight in Bangladesh

Rani Akter, a mother of five, usually works as a domestic helper in Dhaka’s Zikatola area. When the coronavirus pandemic broke out in Bangladesh last March, her employers asked her not to come to their homes for fear of infection. “I lost my work in three houses one after the other, which became a nightmare for me. My rich employers did not allow me in their homes as they thought that I might carry the invisible virus,” Akter told IPS.

Is Sharing More than Water the Key to Transboundary Governance in the Meghna River Basin?

Kajol Miah is a rice farmer from the Bangladesh side of the Meghna River Basin. And in towns on the Indian side of the river basin, Bangladeshi rice is in great demand.

Rohingya Children Find Refuge in Education

Although learning centres in Cox’s Bazar Kutupalong Refugee Camp are closed because of the COVID-19 pandemic, Mariom Akhter, a Rohingya mother of four, is grateful not only for the schooling her children have had but the training sessions she as a parent was able to attend. The skills she learnt has helped her assist her children with their education at home in a crisis. It’s something she’s likely needed to help her children with over the last few weeks after a Mar. 22 fire spread through the camp, destroying the shelters of at least 45,000 people as well as important infrastructure, including hospitals, learning centres, aid distribution points and a registration centre. At least 15 people were reported dead and 400 missing.

Dying for a Better Life – How Rohingya Refugees Risk their Lives to Cross into Malaysia

Last week more than 396 starving Rohingyas were rescued off the coast of Bangladesh after being at sea for two months. At least 32 had died on the boat after it failed to reached Malaysia. While it was unclear at the time of the breaking news whether the refugees were from Myanmar, where they are originally from, or Bangladesh — where more than a million Rohingya Muslims live as refugees after fleeing violence in Myanmar in 2017 — the attempt to reach Malaysia is not a new one.

No Space for Social Distancing in Rohingya Refugee Camps

Nine-year-old Mohammad Rafique used to collect vegetables from Kutupalong Bazaar and sell them at a market inside Kutupalong camp, a camp of some 600,000 Rohingyas, in Bangladesh’s Cox’s Bazar.


Mainstreaming Leprosy-affected People a Big Challenge in Bangladesh

When Feroza Begum was first diagnosed with leprosy in 2006, it felt as though she had been struck by a thunderbolt due to the deep-seated prejudice in her society that the disease is a curse from Allah (God).

Sasakawa Vows to Continue Support for Fighting Leprosy in Bangladesh

Chairman of The Nippon Foundation, Yohei Sasakawa, has assured Bangladesh of continuing support for the Zero Leprosy Initiative announced by the country's Prime Minister, Sheikh Hasina, aimed at eliminating leprosy by 2030.

Nippon Foundation Announces US$ 2m Support for the Education of Rohingya Children in Bangladesh

In the light of limited access to education for displaced Rohingya children, the Nippon Foundation has announced US$ 2 million support to BRAC to launch a project to ensure educational facilities to both Rohingya and local community children.

Bangladesh Can Be Leprosy-Free Before 2030 Prime Minister Tells National Zero Leprosy Conference

Leprosy is not a curse but should be detected and treated early, Bangladeshi Prime Minister, Sheikh Hasina, has told delegates at a gathering in her country's capital to discuss the elimination of the disease.

Building a Leprosy Free Bangladesh

Despite having remarkable success in leprosy control in the last decades, the Bangladesh government is now moving forward with a vision to build a leprosy- free country.

Running from the Storm – How Bangladesh’s Climate Migrants are Becoming Food Secure

It was almost a decade ago when Ruma Begum and her family left their home in Bangladesh’s coastal Tazumuddin upazila or sub-district and travelled some 50 km away to start a new life. They had been driven out of their home by an extreme and changing climate that has continued to ravage the district of Bhola.

Bangladesh’s Climate Change Victims Safeguard the Sundarbans’ Endangered Dolphins

Israfil Boyati lives along the shoreline of the Bay of Bengal. In the past he used to catch fish in the canals and rivers of Bangladesh’s Sundarbans mangrove forest — one of the world’s largest and habitat to many endangered species, including the Bengal tigers and freshwater dolphins.

Beaten and Tortured for a Ransom, Lured by the Promise of a Livelihood

After his father passed away two years ago, the burden of caring for a six-member family rested on the shoulders of the now 19-year-old Farhad Hossain. He had no clue how he would support his family and pay for the education of his four younger siblings. 

Collectively Managing South Asia’s Stressed Water Resources

Experts and policymakers here say regional cooperation is a must to resolve long-standing water problems in South Asian countries like Bangladesh, Bhutan, China, India and Nepal, and to harness the full value of water.

Value of Water Is on the Rise

In the wake of recent water-related disasters in Bangladesh, including water-logging and floods that displaced thousands of families, a high-level consultation in the capital Dhaka on valuing water will look at ways to optimize water use and solutions to water-related problems facing South Asia.

Dhaka Could Be Underwater in a Decade

Like many other fast-growing megacities, the Bangladeshi capital of Dhaka faces severe water and sanitation problems, chiefly the annual flooding during monsoon season due to unplanned urbanisation, destruction of wetlands and poor city governance.

Bangladesh’s Urban Slums Swell with Climate Migrants

Abdul Aziz, 35, arrived in the capital Dhaka in 2006 after losing all his belongings to the mighty Meghna River. Once, he and his family had lived happily in the village of Dokkhin Rajapur in Bhola, a coastal district of Bangladesh. Aziz had a beautiful house and large amount of arable land.

Raising Walls Against the Sea

Facing the bleak prospect of millions of its citizens being displaced in coming years due to storms and sea level rise caused by climate change, Bangladesh is building up existing coastal embankments in a bid to protect coastal lands and people.

Conserving the Hilsa

Bangladesh has decided to set up a Hilsa Conservation Trust Fund (HCTF) to protect this fish from over-exploitation due to population growth and effects of climate change.