A motorboat driving through the port of Khulna, Bangladesh

Bangladesh A dynamic country facing big challenges

Water shapes life in Bangladesh. The country's rivers, the Padma (Ganges), the Jamuna (Brahmaputra) and the Meghna, are essential to people's livelihoods. The abundant water and fertile soils of the country's plains, which lie only a few metres above sea level, allow farmers to produce several harvests a year.

But the same water also poses great dangers. Monsoon rains, swollen rivers and cyclones coming from the Bay of Bengal regularly cause flooding and have cost countless lives over the last few decades. Today special shelters offer the people greater safety when floods hit, but they cannot prevent the destruction of infrastructure and the loss of harvests.

In future, these weather-related phenomena are likely to become more extreme as a result of climate change. That is why Bangladesh is working hard to gain international support for its efforts to adapt to climate change. In fact, Bangladesh regards itself as a spokesperson for the countries that are highly vulnerable to the impacts of climate change.

Bangladesh is the most populous of the "least developed countries" (LDCs). Over the last few decades, the country has made remarkable progress and its economy is developing at a dynamic rate. If Bangladesh continues to develop in this positive manner, it is likely to move up into the group of "moderately developed countries" (MDCs) by 2024.

Development cooperation

Bangladesh and Germany enjoy friendly relations. Germany is the second biggest market after the US for Bangladesh exports. As a long-standing and reliable partner in development cooperation, Germany is held in high regard in Bangladesh.

The development support provided to Bangladesh by Germany's Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ) focuses primarily on the areas of renewable energies and energy efficiency, good governance, human rights and the rule of law, better social and environmental standards in the textiles industry, and climate change adaptation.

Parliamentary building in Dhaka, Bangladesh

Democratic structures under strain Internal link

In 1971, Bangladesh separated from Pakistan. Following a period of political unrest marked by autocratic regimes and a number of coups, the country managed the transition back to a parliamentary democracy in 1991.

Street scene in Dhaka, the capital of Bangladesh

Growth not reaching everyone Internal link

In Bangladesh, around 160 million people live on only 148,000 square kilometres of land – equivalent to about 40 per cent of the area of Germany. It is the world's most densely populated country (if one leaves aside the city states). Recent annual population growth has been 1.1 per cent.

Workers at the Zaber und Zubair Fabrics Ltd. textile company in Tongi, Bangladesh

The economy is picking up Internal link

The economy of Bangladesh has been growing since the 1990s. In the past ten years, annual growth has usually been around six per cent or slightly higher, and in 2018 it even reached 7.9 per cent. The World Bank expects this rate of growth to continue in 2019 and beyond. The main drivers of the country's economic upswing are its cities.

Harvesting rice in Mongla in the Southwest of Bangladesh

Natural resources under threat by economic growth and climate change Internal link

The environment in Bangladesh is being progressively degraded, mostly as a result of natural disasters, a high population density and poverty. Soil erosion and deforestation are destroying forests, wetlands and farmland.

German development cooperation with Bangladesh

Having contributed around three billion euros in development support to date, Germany is an important bilateral donor for Bangladesh. The German government pledged 221.4 million euros for development cooperation to Bangladesh for the years 2017 and 2018. And for 2019, it made an interim commitment of 85 million euros.

Cooperation between the two states currently focuses on the following three priority areas:

  • Renewable energy and energy efficiency
  • Good governance, the rule of law and human rights
  • Adaptation to climate change in urban areas
Solar system powering a groundwater pump

Ensuring an environmentally friendly but cost-effective power supply Internal link

Increasing industrial production in Bangladesh is exacerbating the already serious energy crisis facing the country. Shortages result in frequent power cuts. The over-stretched and out-dated infrastructure in Bangladesh's energy sector is holding back economic development. At the same time, however, Bangladesh has made a commitment under the Paris Agreement to reduce its carbon emissions. To meet its commitment, Bangladesh intends to scale up the use of renewable energies and plans to modernise and extend its power supply infrastructure accordingly.

A man transporting jeans on a rikshaw

Strengthening social safeguards and an independent judiciary Internal link

The human rights situation in Bangladesh is cause for concern. Violations of basic rights are not prosecuted systematically or effectively enough. Furthermore, Bangladeshi citizens are not yet sufficiently aware of their rights. The general framework, though, has improved: Bangladesh has now ratified all international human rights conventions. In 2010, it was the first South Asian state to ratify the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court.

Workers building a new dam road in Khulna

Preparing for climate risks Internal link

Bangladesh is one of the countries worst affected by the impacts of climate change. For example, if the climate continues to warm, the Bay of Bengal is likely to see a considerable rise in sea levels and the loss of about ten per cent of the adjoining land area by the year 2050. Experts forecast that this could lead to some 15 million people migrating, with most moving into the country's larger cities.

Aerial photograph of the refugee camp Kutupalong in Bangladesh, where Rohingya who were expelled from Myanmar live.

Aerial photograph of the refugee camp Kutupalong in Bangladesh, where Rohingya who were expelled from Myanmar live.

Aerial photograph of the refugee camp Kutupalong in Bangladesh, where Rohingya who were expelled from Myanmar live.