Climate Change, Food Security And Nutrition Issue In Bangladesh

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On top of the challenges that already remain, new concerns with food security and nutrition are emerging as a result of the climatic evolution that the country is undergoing. In particular, the ongoing process of climate change have some worrying implications for the future trend of food security and nutrition by adversely affecting food production and threatening the livelihoods of the directly affected people (Osmani et al., 2016).

It has been estimated that, owing to climate change, crop production might be reduced by 30 percent by the end of the century; in particular, rice and wheat production might be reduced by between 8 percent and 32 percent by 2050. Winter crop production would be seriously hampered due to a warmer and drier environment while moisture stress might force farmers to reduce the area under “Boro” cultivation (FAO/WHO 2014).

In Bangladesh, a sea level rise of only 45cm would displace as many as 35 million people from 20 coastal areas by 2050 (Rabbani et al. 2010). The main immediate impact, which is quite prevalent already, is salinization of both surface and groundwater in the coastal belt, particularly in the Ganges estuary region (Osmani et al., 2016). High soil salinity in the coastal belt will reduce crop yields and thus increase food insecurity among those who rely on agriculture for their livelihoods. There are only a few agricultural technologies that can be adopted in the high-salinity coastal areas in Bangladesh This lack of agricultural technology, coupled with the climatic hazards, leads to food insecurity in many parts of the country (Rabbani et al. 2015).

Increased salinity in the coastal zones might also alter the micronutrient content of foods, including rice, which may become deficient in zinc and other micronutrients. Further, in the coastal zones, one can expect to witness an increased prevalence of pre-eclampsia in pregnant women due to hypertension caused by intake of saline water (Khan et al. 2014). This particular adverse impact is likely to aggravate the problem of low birth weight and malnutrition of babies in the coastal zones (Osmani et al., 2016).

In addition, the global problem of rising carbon dioxide emissions is going to make Bangladesh’s staple food crops are less nutritious. There is also growing evidence that higher atmospheric carbon dioxide concentrations could reduce the zinc, iron, and protein content of certain crops, including staples such as rice, wheat, peas, and soybean (Myers et al. 2014). This has serious implications for nutrition since nearly three-quarters of the people in Bangladesh currently get their zinc and iron from staple crops. About half of the population already suffer iron and zinc deficiencies, which cause serious damage to health and nutrition, especially for small children and pregnant women. There is a genuine concern that rising carbon dioxide in the atmosphere will exacerbate the problem of micronutrient deficiencies further (Osmani et al., 2016).


  • FAO/WHO. (Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations/World Health Organization). (2014). Bangladesh Country Nutrition Paper. International Conference on Nutrition 21 Years Later (Rome). Rome and Geneva.
  • Khan, A. E., Scheelbeek, P. F. D., Shilpi, A. B., Chan, Q, Mojumder, S. K., Rahman, A., Haines, A. and Vineis, P. (2014). “Salinity in Drinking Water and the Risk of (Pre)Eclampsia and Gestational Hypertension in Coastal Bangladesh: A Case-Control Study.” PLOS One (9).
  • Myers et al. (2014). “Increasing CO2 Threatens Human Nutrition.” Nature 510: 39–142
  • Rabbani, G., Rahman, A. A., and Islam, N. (2010). “Climate Change and Sea Level Rise: Issues and Challenges for Coastal Communities in the Indian Ocean Region.” In D. Michel and A. Pandya (eds.). Coastal Zones and Climate Change. The Henry L. Stimson Center: Washington, DC
  • Osmani, S. R., Ahmed, A., Ahmed, T., Hossain, N., Huq, S., & Shahan, A. (2016). Strategic Review of Food Security and Nutrition in Bangladesh. World Food Programme.
  • Rabbani, M. G., Rahman, A. A., Shoef, I. J. and Khan, Z. M. (2015). “Climate Change and Food Security in Vulnerable Coastal Zones of Bangladesh.” In U. Habiba, M. A. Abedin, A. W. R. Hassan, and R. Shaw (eds.). Food Security and Risk Reduction in Bangladesh. Springer: Tokyo

Source: icddr,b

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