Harvesting rice in Mongla in the Southwest of Bangladesh

Environmental situation Natural resources under threat by economic growth and climate change

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. The rise in industrial production is also taking its toll on the environment – for instance because untreated wastewater is being dumped into the country's rivers. In addition, a proportion of the country's drinking water is contaminated by natural deposits of arsenic. Drinking the contaminated water over long periods of time can cause serious illnesses.

Bangladesh is particularly severely affected by the impacts of climate change. Experts predict that the frequency and intensity of natural disasters will continue to increase.

Agricultural sector

Although agriculture in Bangladesh contributes only about 13 per cent of the country's value creation, some 38 per cent of the working population is employed in the agricultural sector. Rice is the most important crop. The fertile lowlands regularly flood, enabling them to produce several harvests a year.

So far, food production has kept pace with population growth. However, the unstable climatic conditions increase the risk of food shortages. Floods are becoming more severe, with the result that harvests are wiped out and improvements in infrastructure are washed away. Experts reckon that climate change is likely to exacerbate these problems even further in the future, and that agricultural production will decline as a result.