stuartmatthews_280Bangladesh continues to be severely affected by climate change. Its vulnerable low-lying landscape is susceptible to cyclones and destructive river erosion created by the acceleration of glacier melting from the Himalayas and the seasonal monsoon rains.

In May 2009 Cyclone Aila tore across the south-western coast of Bangladesh destroying more than 700km (434 miles) of coastal embankments and wiping out thousands of homes, leaving over 40,000 people marooned on the embankments and forced to take refuge in shelters.

18 months on since Cyclone Aila struck, the people of Koyra have continued to develop their land to protect themselves against these ever threatening changes in climate. The completion of the Shikaribari Ring Dam in January 2010 has allowed the majority of the community to return to their homes and begin to rebuild their lives. Still, around 875 people remain in temporary shelters along the embankments as their land is still inaccessible due to flooding.

The unpredictable weather shifts pose a severe threat and uncertain future for the people living on the frontline of climate change. Many still keep their belongings packed as they know how quickly the weather and landscape can change, forcing them to seek refuge once again.

Stuart Matthews

Copies of Stuart Matthews publication of this story in newspaper format are available at Foto8 Gallery.