New podcast looks at costs of climate action for people of Bangladesh

News, 23 January 2020
Rural households in Bangladesh spend the staggering sum of almost US$2 billion a year to respond to disasters and climate change – and the implications of that for the lives of men, women and children in the country is discussed in a podcast launched by IIED and the International Budget Partnership today.

Extreme weather events, unpredictable rainfall and rising sea levels pose a threat for people in Bangladesh, particularly for people on low incomes. With little financial flexibility to respond to climate disasters, rural households are significantly affected.

Sixty-five per cent of Bangladesh’s population lives in rural areas.

Nationally, the goals of reducing absolute poverty and becoming a middle-income country are at risk of being undermined, yet to date, the cost of combating climate change is being borne more by Bangladesh’s men and women than the government.

Bangladesh rural households together are paying double what the government provides to respond to climate change and disasters and 12 times what Bangladesh receives in multilateral international climate financing in absolute terms.

In the second podcast in the joint IIED and International Budget Partnership series entitled 'People, Planet and Public Finance', IIED chief economist Paul Steele and Shaikh Eskander, co-authors of a recent IIED report, 'Bearing the climate burden', discuss these findings.

Need for change

Most significantly, however, the burden is not the same for female- and male-headed households.

Female-headed households are spending three times as much, as a share of their incomes, as male-headed households. Women have less access to formal bank loans than men and are at the mercy of informal lenders, paying more for the money they need.

And with a focus on responding to climate events and making themselves more resilient for the future, all households have less to spend on food, education and health.

As the authors consider these findings, they come up with recommendations for how things should change, not only at the level of giving women and men a stronger voice in decision-making processes, but also the systemic policy changes international and national policymakers should be considering.

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