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Jul03

Changing Tides: An Uncertain Future

A project by Stuart Matthews

Changing Tides: An Uncertain Future

I began working in Bangladesh in 2009, 6 months after Cyclone Aila struck destroying more than 700km (434 miles) of coastal embankments and wiping out thousands of homes, leaving over 40,000 people marooned on the embankments and forced to take refuge in shelters.

Bangladesh lies at the forefront of Climate Change. Its vulnerable low-lying landscape is susceptible to Cyclones and destructive river erosion created by the acceleration of glacier melting from the Himalayas and the seasonal Monsoon rains. 

18 months after Cyclone Aila struck, the people of Koyra have continued to develop their land to protect themselves against these erratic changes in climate. The completion of the Shikaribari Ring Dam in January 2010 has allowed the majority of the community to return to their homes and begin to rebuild their lives.

Bangladesh lies at the forefront of Climate Change. Its vulnerable low-lying landscape is susceptible to Cyclones and destructive river erosion created by the acceleration of glacier melting from the Himalayas and the seasonal Monsoon rains.

Babu Sadar (37) recounts his experience working on the Shikaribari Ring Dam ”The embankment was near its completion, only a small portion left. A huge tide came through that part, we were moving hand in hand, and suddenly my feet slipped and I fell down. My wife tried to grasp my hand, and then she also slipped and fell. I was drowning in fifteen to twenty feet of water, still there was no trace of land under my feet. Then by the grace of God, I came up for a moment my head was above the water. Then once again I fell below the surface, at that time I touched the ground with my feet. I prayed to God, that if I died there would be no one to look after my children and as I prayed to God, He saved us!”

There remains around 875 people in temporary shelters along the embankments, as their land is still inaccessible due to flooding. The unpredictable weather shifts pose a severe threat and uncertain future for the people living on the frontline of Climate Change. Many still keep their belongings packed, as they know how quickly the weather and landscape can alter, forcing them to seek refuge once again.

 

View more about this project & Stuart Matthews


About the Author

Stuart Matthews

Stuart Matthews

Stuart Matthews (b.1984, England) graduated from Plymouth University in 2007 and travelled to Kosovo to cover their independence from Serbia in 2008. Since then, he has made various trips to document the impact of Climate Change in Bangladesh and the effect that this is having on communities living on the frontline.

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