Bangladesh has experienced a notable surge in its population, expanding by almost 2.5 times since 1972, and currently holds one of the highest population densities in the world.
Furthermore, it is anticipated that by 2050, there will be 200 million people on the planet, which will have a big impact on environmental dynamics.
Natural resources and the environment are under tremendous strain due to the urbanization and industrialization that have followed the population boom. There are consequences, including soil, water, and air pollution, that endanger ecosystems, public health, and economic development.
The following paragraphs list the main environmental issues that these demographic and economic changes have brought Bangladesh.
Environmental issues in Bangladesh are impacted by several factors, including its degree of development, economic structure, production methods, and environmental policies.
For instance, because of their slower economic development, less developed nations frequently face problems with access to clean drinking water and inadequate sanitation.
However, industrialization can also lead to issues in wealthy nations, such as water and air pollution. Bangladesh is faced with a multitude of environmental problems that have significant economic consequences.
Numerous things contribute to Bangladesh’s environmental challenges. The main factors causing Bangladesh’s environmental problems include the country’s fast population growth, poverty, scarce resources, unplanned and fast urbanization, industrialization, unfavorable agricultural practices, poor waste management, a lack of environmental awareness, and lax enforcement and regulations.
Bangladesh has a high population density, and the country’s fast population growth puts strain on its natural resources, increasing demand for energy, food, and water while also degrading the environment.
For example, less developed countries usually struggle with access to clean drinking water and poor sanitation due to their slower economic development. However, industrialization can also result in problems for wealthy countries, such as air and water pollution. Bangladesh is confronted with an array of environmental issues that carry substantial economic ramifications.
Bangladesh faces a multitude of environmental concerns. Bangladesh’s rapid population growth, poverty, resource scarcity, unplanned and rapid urbanization, industrialization, unfavorable agricultural practices, inadequate waste management, a lack of environmental awareness, and lax enforcement and regulations are the main causes of the nation’s environmental issues.
Bangladesh has a dense population, and the nation’s rapid population expansion strains its natural resources, raising the need for food, water, and energy while simultaneously deteriorating the environment through sea-level rise, increased frequency and intensity of floods and cyclones, and changing rainfall patterns.
The loss of ecosystems and deterioration of the environment are caused by these climate-related occurrences. Pollution of land, water, and air results from incorrect disposal of solid and hazardous waste, which is caused by ineffective waste management systems, a lack of garbage collection services, and inadequate recycling infrastructure.
Environmental problems remain because of a lack of education about sustainable practices and a general lack of knowledge and comprehension of environmental issues. Industries and individuals fail to comply with environmental standards due to inconsistent enforcement and inadequate institutional ability to track and deal with environmental infractions.
Table of Contents
12 Prominent Environmental Issues in Bangladesh
Bangladesh’s main environmental issues include the following:
- Water Pollution
- Air Pollution
- Solid and Hazardous Wastes
- Inadequate Sanitary Facilities
- Noise Pollution
- Soil Degradation
- Biodiversity Loss
- Sea Level Rise
- Flooding and Unmanageable Urbanization
- Climate Injustice
1. Water Pollution
In Bangladesh, the main causes of water pollution include arsenic poisoning, agrochemicals, municipal garbage, saline intrusion, and industrial discharges.
As a result, over time, these factors have caused rivers’ quality to substantially decline. In Bangladesh, land-based activities like the use of agrochemicals, industrial effluents, and feces are the main causes of surface water pollution.
River water contamination is caused by industries that are located near riverbanks, such as tanneries, fabric dyeing, chemical processing, fabric washing, garments, and plastic product manufacturers.
The primary cause of water contamination in Bangladesh is the country’s industrial belt. The main sources of pollution include pulp and paper, pharmaceutical, metal processing, food fertilizer, pesticide, dyeing and printing, textile, and other industries.
Huge volumes of untreated industrial wastes and effluents are received by more than a few hundred rivers, either directly or indirectly. Massive amounts of wastewater are released during the textile dyeing process.
These textile factories constructed wastewater treatment facilities, which have lain idle for years, in an attempt to avoid being accused of breaking the law. They lack the personnel to operate them and are not functioning.
For instance, every day, some 16000 cubic meters of toxic waste are released into rivers by the 700 tanneries in Dhaka city. Fish stocks are being destroyed by the tainted water in the Buriganga and Turag rivers. These rivers’ water isn’t even fit for human consumption.
2. Air Pollution
Bangladesh has a serious problem with air pollution, especially in the cities. The primary causes of air pollution in the nation include burning biomass, automobile exhaust, brick kilns, industrial pollutants, and fuels used for domestic cooking. Bangladesh’s fast development has led to the airborne discharge of dangerous contaminants.
The traditional brick kilns that are used in Bangladesh use inefficient combustion techniques, like burning biomass or coal, which results in large emissions of sulfur dioxide, particulate matter, and other pollutants. These brick kilns, particularly in the dry season, are a major source of air pollution.
Solid fuels for cooking and heating, such as wood, agricultural waste, and cow dung, are utilized in many homes. These fuels produce indoor air pollution when they burn in open fires or conventional stoves, which can have detrimental effects on one’s health, particularly for women and children.
3. Solid and Hazardous Wastes
The main cause of water pollution in Bangladesh is the careless dumping of solid waste, including garbage from homes and hospitals. Less than half of the 4,000 tons of solid trash that are produced every day are dumped into rivers or low-lying areas. Without any sort of treatment, Dhaka city’s hospitals and clinics produce and discharge poisonous and dangerous pollutants.
When it comes to managing hazardous and solid waste, Bangladesh has many obstacles. Large volumes of trash have been produced in the nation as a result of its quick urbanization, industrialization, and population increase.
The buildup of municipal solid trash in cities and towns is a result of both the growing urban population and inadequate waste management infrastructure. Waste that is not adequately handled can release greenhouse gases, contaminate water sources, and serve as a haven for disease vectors.
The production of electronic garbage, or “e-waste,” has increased along with the use of electronic devices. Hazardous substances including lead, mercury, and cadmium found in e-waste can contaminate the environment if improperly disposed of.
Toxic compounds are frequently released when unofficial recycling operations disassemble e-waste without the necessary safety precautions. The pervasive usage of single-use plastics and the deficiency of recycling facilities lead to plastic contamination in public areas, landfills, and water bodies.
4. Inadequate Sanitary Facilities
An important environmental risk is posed by inadequate sanitary facilities. The population that the Dhaka Environment and Sewage Authority (DESA) can service makes up only 20%.
The problem has gotten worse as there are no infrastructure or sanitary services available. Most untreated sewage is released into rivers and low-lying areas, where it poses a major risk to public health.
5. Noise Pollution
In Bangladesh, one of the biggest threats to public health is noise pollution. The WHO states that a sound of 60 decibels (DB) can momentarily cause deafness in a man, while a sound of 100 DB can cause total deafness. The ideal sound level in Bangladesh, according to the Department of Environment (DOE), is 40 DB at night and 50 DB during the day in residential areas.
The primary causes of noise pollution include construction sites, motorized vehicles, industries, and the careless use of loudspeakers. It ranges from 60 to 100 DB in the Dhaka metropolis. According to experts, half of Dhaka’s population will lose 30% of their hearing if this keeps up.
In Bangladesh, deforestation is a serious environmental problem with a range of ecological and socioeconomic repercussions. One of the main causes of deforestation in Bangladesh is the conversion of forests into agricultural land, especially for the production of commercial commodities including rice.
Deforestation is a result of illegal logging and unsustainable commercial timber extraction, especially in hilly and forested areas. Forests and other vegetation are frequently cleared for the construction of roads, communities, factories, and other infrastructure as a result of rapid urbanization.
Trees are cut down because of our heavy reliance on fuelwood and charcoal for cooking and warmth, particularly in rural areas.
7. Soil Degradation
In Bangladesh, soil degradation is a serious environmental issue that threatens rural livelihoods, food security, and agricultural production. Deficient soil conservation techniques and heavy rainfall induce water erosion, which results in the depletion of rich topsoil.
Particularly in hilly and flood-prone areas, this is common. Bangladesh’s vast coastline is vulnerable to salinization, a process in which salty water seeps into croplands and makes them unfit for farming.
In certain areas, improper irrigation techniques—such as using too much groundwater and having insufficient drainage systems—are a contributing factor to soil salinization.
When chemical fertilizers are used extensively without following appropriate nutrient management procedures, the soil becomes unbalanced, gradually losing vital elements and becoming less fertile.
Uncontrolled livestock grazing, particularly in rural regions, can result in overgrazing, which damages soils by causing erosion, compaction, and loss of vegetation cover.
8. Biodiversity Loss
Bangladesh is facing serious ecological and socioeconomic problems as a result of its declining biodiversity. Ecosystems are disturbed and natural habitats are lost as a result of forest clearing for infrastructure, urbanization, and agriculture.
Wetland habitats are vital, and when they are converted for industrial, agricultural, or aquaculture uses, the biodiversity they support is lost. The discharge of industrial waste and effluents into rivers and coastal areas causes pollution and has a deleterious effect on aquatic biodiversity.
In addition to contributing to pollution, improper disposal of solid waste—including plastic—in water bodies and coastal areas hurts marine biodiversity.
Vulnerable species are being lost as a result of unsustainable hunting and poaching of wildlife, which is motivated by the need for bushmeat, traditional medicine, and exotic pets. Bangladesh poses a further threat to biodiversity as a transit country for the illegal wildlife trade, which includes the trafficking of endangered species.
9. Sea Level Rise
An increasing number of people in Bangladesh are at risk from rising sea levels. This is because two-thirds of the nation lies below 15 feet above sea level.
As a point of reference, Lower Manhattan in New York City is elevated anywhere from 7 to 13 feet above sea level. Furthermore, the threat is made even more apparent by the fact that around one-third of Bangladesh’s population lives near the ocean.
According to estimates, one in seven Bangladeshis will be relocated due to climate change by 2050. In particular, given that sea levels are expected to rise by 19.6 inches (50 cm), By then, Bangladesh would lose almost 11% of its land, and the rise in sea levels alone might force up to 18 million people to flee.
Looking ahead even further, Scientific American explains how “what may end up being the greatest mass migration in human history has its roots in climate change in Bangladesh. According to some scientists, sea levels could rise by five to six feet by 2100, uprooting about 50 million people.
Furthermore, the Sundarbans, a mangrove forest in southern Bangladesh, are currently in danger of being submerged by these rising seas. Given that this coastal forest not only protects biodiversity and livelihoods but also insulates Bangladesh from the worst of the region’s numerous storms, this is a doubly harmful consequence.
Sea-level rise, however, is a concern due to more than just pure. lands The process of salinization, which occurs when salt permeates agricultural ground and reduces crops’ capacity to absorb water, is another reason it’s an issue.
In addition to destroying crops more and more, salinization puts tens of millions of people in coastal areas at risk for their drinking water supplies. People who drink this tainted, salty water may be more susceptible to heart-related conditions.
To put things in perspective, the encroaching ocean harmed 8.3 million hectares (321,623 square miles) of land in 1973. As of 2009, the Soil Resources Development Institute of Bangladesh reports that the area had increased to more than 105.6 million hectares (407,723 square miles).
Over the previous 35 years, the salinity of the nation’s soil has grown by almost 26% overall.
10. Flooding and Unmanageable Urbanization
It is common knowledge that global climate change is increasing the unpredictability and frequently the intensity of rainfall. This truth is especially evident in Bangladesh.
Greater rainfall mixed with rising temperatures is causing the Himalayan glaciers that feed the rivers that surround Bangladesh to melt, making broad areas of the nation far more vulnerable to destructive floods.
Supercharged flood levels in the Ganges-Meghna-Brahmaputra River Basin are displacing hundreds of thousands of livelihoods and entire villages. The devastation that makes over ten million people from Bangladesh already climate refugees.
About 12 million of the children most impacted by climate change live in and around the strong river systems that run across Bangladesh and frequently overflow their banks, according to UNICEF.
At least 480 community health clinics were submerged in the most recent significant flooding of the Brahmaputra River in 2017, which also caused damage to some 50,000 tube wells, which are crucial for providing communities with clean water.
That example, of course, explains in detail how flooding affects kids. However, the lesson is evident. Overflowing floods are forcing millions of people in Bangladesh to flee and disrupt their livelihoods.
According to one estimate, up to 50% of people who are currently residing in Bangladesh’s urban slums may have had to leave their rural homes due to flooding caused by riverbanks.
Comparably, a 2012 survey of 1,500 Bangladeshi families who moved to cities, mostly Dhaka, revealed that nearly all of them listed the changing environment as their primary motivation.
The vast majority of these migrants discover greater, often even worse, issues when they relocate to large cities rather than relief from the climate-related problems they had in their rural areas. They are compelled to relocate into heavily packed urban slums with subpar living conditions, unsanitary circumstances, and few job options, as the video below explains.
Consider Dhaka, the largest and capital city of Bangladesh, as background. With 47,500 people per square kilometer, Dhaka has a population density almost double that of Manhattan. However, each year, as many as 400,000 additional low-income migrants arrive in Dhaka.
There is no end in sight to the riverine flooding and other climate-related effects that are fueling this uncontrollable urbanization. mostly in the absence of significant climate action.
When the Bay of Bengal joins the south coast of Bangladesh, it narrows toward its northern shore. Cyclones may be directed toward Bangladesh’s shore and may intensify as a result of this “funneling.”
Storm surges have the potential to be extremely destructive due to these factors as well as the fact that the majority of Bangladesh’s land is low, flat terrain.
The Internal Displacement Monitoring Center estimates that during the past ten years, natural catastrophes have displaced approximately 700,000 people from Bangladesh annually. The yearly figure rises in years that have strong cyclones, such as the following:
- In 2007, 3,406 people lost their lives when Cyclone Sidr hit the coast of the nation with winds as high as 149 miles per hour (240 km/h).
- Cyclone Aila struck in 2009, just two years later, affecting millions of people, killing over 190, and leaving about 200,000 homeless.
- In 2016, Cyclone Roanu destroyed villages and unleashed devastating landslides, displacing thousands of people, evacuating half a million people, and leaving 26 people dead.
- 2019 saw Cyclone Bulbul rip over the nation three years later, driving over two million people into shelters designed for cyclones. One of the longest-lasting cyclones Bangladesh has ever experienced, Bulbul lingered over the nation for roughly 36 hours.
- In 2020, Cyclone Amphan wrecked at least 176,007 hectares of agricultural land in 17 coastal districts, killed 10 people in Bangladesh (and 70 more in India), and left others homeless. It was the strongest cyclone in the nation’s history to be documented.
For a final example, just this year Cyclone Yaas made landfall with a wind speed of 93 miles (about 150 kilometers) per hour, like its predecessors, bringing momentous devastation, and claiming unnecessary lives. Now, it can be easy to get lost in the numbers, especially when they’re so overwhelmingly large.
But the takeaway is clear: Stronger cyclones are becoming more common because of our changing climate. As a result, Bangladesh is bearing more and more of the same tragic aftermath.
12. Climate Injustice
Talking about climate impacts in Bangladesh would hardly be complete without mentioning the staggering injustice Bangladesh faces. Because overwhelmingly, climate impacts are being imposed on Bangladesh by high-emitting, wealthy countries — not by the people of Bangladesh themselves.
Bangladesh contributes very little to the global greenhouse gas emissions that are driving climate change. The fact that the average Bangladeshi emits 0.5 metric tons of CO2 annually may be much more significant. Comparatively, the amount is 15.2 metric tons per person in the US, or around 30 times more.
In conclusion, Bangladesh faces numerous environmental issues that have a big impact on its economy. It is critical to support environmental governance, increase public knowledge, and promote sustainable behaviors to protect the environment and lessen its negative economic effects.
By addressing these challenges and implementing effective measures, Bangladesh can actively pursue a greener and more sustainable future, wherein economic growth harmonizes with environmental preservation.
This approach will not only enhance the quality of life for its citizens but also preserve natural resources for the well-being of future generations.
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A passion-driven environmentalist by heart. Lead content writer at EnvironmentGo.
I strive to educate the public about the environment and its problems.
It has always been about nature, we ought to protect not destroy.