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In small villages along the eastern coast of Bangladesh, researchers have noticed an unexpectedly high rate of miscarriage, reports BBC.
As they investigated further, scientists reached the conclusion that climate change might be to blame. Journalist Susannah Savage went into these communities to find out more.
“Girls are better than boys,” says 30-year-old Al-Munnahar. Boys do not listen. They are arrogant. Girls are polite.”
Al-Munnahar, who lives in a small village on the east coast of Bangladesh, has three sons but wished for a girl. Once she thought she would have a daughter, but she miscarried the baby.
She is among several women who have lost a baby in her village.
Image copyright Susannah Savage Image caption Almost all the food they eat in Al-Munnahar’s village now has to be bought at markets some distance away
While miscarriages are not out of the ordinary, scientists who follow the community have noticed an increase, particularly compared to other areas. The reason for this, they believe, is climate change.
The walk to Failla Para, Al-Munnahar’s village, is arduous: in the dry season, the narrow track leads into a swamp, and in rainy season, into the sea. The village itself is not much more than a mound of mud with a few shacks and a chicken pen perched precariously on the slippery surface.
“Nothing grows here anymore,” says Al-Munnahar. Not many years ago – up until the 1990s – these swamp lands were paddy fields.
Image copyright Susannah Savage Image caption The village, in the district of Chakaria, is built on salty mud, and families often live in wet, damp conditions when the water gets into their home
If rice production back then was not profitable, it was at least viable. Not anymore. Rising waters and increasing salinity have forced the wealthiest among the villagers to change to shrimp farming or salt harvesting. Today, few paddy fields remain.
“This is climate change in action,” says Dr Manzoor Hanifi, a scientist from the International Centre for Diarrhoeal Disease Research Bangladesh (ICDDRB), a research institute. “The effect on the land is visible, but the effect on the body: that we don’t see.”