14.11.2017

Support for climate migrants

In Bangladesh, climate change is forcing ever more people from their villages and into urban slums. They need infrastructure and jobs more than anything else.

The UN Climate Change Conference currently taking place in Bonn is about them, too – people who are already being deprived of their livelihoods by climate change. They are suffering the impacts of droughts, storm surges and cyclones. In Bangladesh alone, an estimated six million people have already moved away from their homes as a result of the changing climate.

Mostly poor and from rural areas, many of those affected seek refuge in the cities. Once there, however, they often live in poverty. In the large metropolitan areas of Khulna and Rajshahi, around 70 per cent of the slum-dwellers are now internal migrants. The informal settlements lack, above all, sanitary facilities or clean water. In the city there is no demand for the largely agricultural skills the new residents bring with them, so they rarely find jobs.

The Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) GmbH is there on the ground, working to improve people’s living conditions. On behalf of the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ), it is providing training in mobile phone repairs and motorbike mechanics for people living in 19 slums in Khulna and Rajshahi. Almost 1,500 women and men have already taken part in the courses.

In addition to this, GIZ is working with the municipal administrations to expand their infrastructure, for example public lighting, and improve access to electricity and water. This is benefiting about 14,000 people – not just migrants, but also members of the host communities. In this way, tensions are resolved and conflicts avoided. For example, roads, sewers and toilets have been built, with local residents themselves working on these labour-intensive infrastructure projects. As such, 1,400 people have been able to find temporary jobs and earn some money. Moreover, with their newly acquired manual skills, they are also better placed to find longer-term employment.

GIZ is breaking new ground with these activities in Bangladesh. It is the company’s first project to explicitly address climate-related migration. It is a part of BMZ’s special initiative ‘Tackling the root causes of displacement, reintegrating refugees’.