This story is a part of The Sinking Cities Project, a global cross-border investigation that examines how sea-level rise is impacting major cities and how their governments are responding to the consequences of climate crisis. Even on a city level, money and power obscure the picture of what needs to be done to ensure safety and justice for all.
With homes swallowed by floodwaters and river erosion, migrants from different parts of Bangladesh have opted to move to the cities of Dhaka and Chittagong for ‘safer ground. ‘ But these options for ‘safer’ ground are also sinking.
The Sinking Cities Project is a global cross-border investigation that examines how sea-level rise is impacting major cities and how their governments are responding to the consequences of climate crisis. My part focus on Bangladesh. After publishing the story- it was republished by different Bangladeshi and international media including BBC ALBA. Bangladesh policymakers are also concerned about the issues.
The Government plans to bring water from a river that is 132 kilometer away to Bangladesh’s largest industrial zone, which is currently under construction due to the worrisome effects of groundwater extraction. Chittagong Water Supply and Sewerage Authority decided to impose taxes on individual deep tube wells as a means of discouraging groundwater extraction after publishing the story.
We have used at the story data, video, info graph (A Flourish chart) and illustration. A team of journalists of the Unbaise The News worked for visualizing the story. I have captured photographs and video by my mobile phone and sent them to the editors through wire services.
Context about the project:
It is very difficult to get data, especially from government organizations through there is a law called Right to Information. Always the authorities are in a denial mode not to give information. At the same time in Bangladesh, there is a law called criminal defamation law known also as the Digital Security Act—which included sections of non-bailable and 10 years imprisonment for publishing anything using digital platform that hurt anyone. So, there were legal threats to publish anything. I was more cautious about the part of the water crisis of Bangladesh’s largest industrial zone—where the country is expecting huge foreign investment. Anything negative about the industrial zone- government considers it as anti-government propaganda. Getting data also was a tough job for me. I spent around six months on this data. On my first visit, Dhaka Water Supply and Sewerage Authority did not allow me to enter into their building. After waiting several hours I had to return with empty hands. Then I applied for data but they did not respond. Finally, I managed to talk Managing Director via my colleague.
What can other journalists learn from this project?
This is a project that depicts almost every aspect of Bangladesh’s climate crisis. How people are losing their homes as a result of extreme weather or sea level rise, where they are migrating, and why. The story also highlights the issues that they face in the cities where they are migrating and consider to be safe havens. There is also the issue of how the safer ground (cities) is suffering as a result of the climate crisis. What are the cities’ policies for these climate migrants?
What are the financial constraints to building climate resilience? How international organizations are assisting. How much money does Bangladesh spend to the climate crisis? Spending money to build resilience, Bangladesh become a debt-ridden country. This is a story that weaves together everything from crisis to suffering, policy to the struggle to build resilience. So, this is a well-resource for the journalists.