(COPY PAST) The coastal zone of Bangladesh

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2. The coastal zone of Bangladesh
2.1 Coastal boundary
Bangladesh, a flood plain delta, is
a land of rivers and canals. The
country is sloping gently from
the north to the south, meeting the Bay of Bengal at
the southern end. The whole coast runs parallel
to the Bay of Bengal, forming 710 km long coas
tline (CZPo, 2005). According to the coastal zone
policy (CZPo, 2005) of the Government of Bangladesh,
19 districts out of 64 ar
e in the co
astal zone
covering a total of 147 upazillas
1
(Figure-1) of the country. Out
of these 19 districts, only 12
districts meet the sea or
lower estuary directly.
Figure-1: Coastal zone of Bangladesh (Source: Islam, 2004)
The zone is divided into exposed and interior coast according to the position of land. The upazillas
that face the coast or river es
tuary are treated as exposed coas
tal zone. Total number of upazillas
that fall on exposed coasta
l zone is 48 in 12 distri
cts. A total of 99 upazilla
s that are located behind
the exposed coast are treated as interior coast.
The exposed coast embraces the sea directly and is
subject to be affected highly
by the anticipated sea level rise.
1
Upazilla is small administrative unit of Bangladesh (sub-district).
6
The coastal zone covers 47,201 square kilometer land
area, which is 32 percent of total landmass of
the country (Islam, 2004; p.xvii). Water area cove
rs 370.4 km (200 nautical miles) from the
coastline (UNCLOS, 1982; Article
57), estuaries and the internal
river water. The Exclusive
Economic zone (EEZ) is also treate
d as a coastal zone of its own.
The southern part of Bangladesh falls under coastal zo
ne that receives discharge of numerous rivers,
including Ganges-Brahmputra-Meghna (GBM) rive
r system, creating one of the most productive
ecosystems of the world. Except Chittagong-Cox’s Bazar
, all parts of the coas
tal zone are plain land
with extensive river networks a
nd accreted land, which is known
in Bangladesh as char land. India
is at the west of the zone wher
eas Myanmar is at the
east of the coas
t. Pramanik (1983; cited in
Islam, 2001; p.9) has divided the Bang
ladesh coastal zone into three
regions namely ea
stern, central
and western coastal region. However, the shape of the coastal zone is quite unstable and changing
time to time due to erosion and accretion.
2.2 Eastern coastal zone
The eastern coastal zone starts from Bodormokam,
the southern tip of mainland to the Feni river
estuary. This zone is very narrow. A series of small hills are run parallel to this zone. Karnafully,
Sangu and Matamuhury river falls into the Bay of Benga
l in this area. The Naf
river falls to the Bay
of Bengal dividing Bangladesh from Myanmar. Soil
characteristics of the eastern coastal zone are
dominated by submerged sands and mudflats (Is
lam, 2001; p.9). The submer
ged sand of the zone
has formed a long sandy beach of 145 km from C
ox’s Bazar towards Teknaf. Two of the country’s
most important sandy beaches from tourists’ pers
pective, namely Patenga and Cox’s Bazar are
located
in this coastal zone. Fi
sh farming, fishing in the bay,
salt production and tourism are main
economic activities of the zone.
2.3 Central coastal zone
Central coastal zone extends from
Feni river estuary
to the eastern corner
of the Sundarbans,
covering Noakhali, Barisal, Bhola and Patuakhali
districts. The zone r
eceives a large volume of
discharge from the Ganges-Bhrahmputra-Meghna
river system, forming high volume of silty
deposition. More than 70% of the sediment load of
the region is silt; with
an additional 10% sand
(Coleman, 1969; cited in Allison et al., 2003). B
ecause of the sediment discharge and strong
current, the morphology of the zone
is very dynamic and thus erosion
and accretion rate
s in the area
are very high. Numerous islands are located in th
e area including the country’s
only island district
Bhola. Many islands have been formed in last fe
w years in the area by the
process of land accretion.
At the same time many have been eroded or
disappeared (Rahman et
al. 1993; Pramanik 1988,
Cited in SDNP 2004). Kuakata, an attractive sandy
beach is located at the zone under Khepupara
upazilla of Patuakhali district
2.4 Western coastal zone
The western coastal zone is covered by the Sund
arbans mangrove forest,
covering greater Khulna
and part of Patuakhali district.
Because of presence of mangrove fore
st, the zone is relatively stable
in terms of soil erosion. Mangrov
e swamps, tidal flats, natural levees and tidal creeks are
characteristics of the zone. Mangroves of the
area support feeding and br
eeding grounds for fish
and shrimps species, enriching the area in fisher
ies bio-diversity. The area lies at 0.9 to 2.1 metre
7
above mean sea level (Iftekhar & Islam, 2004). Soil
characteristics of the we
stern coastal zone are
silty loams or alluvium. Islam (2003) mentione
d that mangrove dominated coastal areas have
developed on soil formations of recent origin
consisting of alluvium washed down from the
Himalayas. The zone also has touris
t attraction in the Sundarbans.
2.6 Islands
About 60 islands are identified in the coastal zone
to date (Islam, 2004; p.17). Most of the islands
are located in the central coastal zone, beca
use of the dynamic river flow of the Ganges-
Brahmputra-Meghna river system. Hatia, Sandweep
and Maishkhali are thr
ee upazilas and Bhola,
an administrative district are four
bigger islands in the zone. Some islands are limited to only in a
small village. St. Martin is the only coral island of the country located in the Bay of Bengal, about
9.8 km (Hossain, 2001) to the southeastern side
of mainland. The island has an area of 7.5 km
2
and
situated under Teknaf thana of Cox’s Bazar dist
rict. A total number of
177 char lands are also
identified in the coastal
zone (Islam, 2004; p.17).
2.7 People and livelihoods
Total population living in the coastal zone is
35.1 million that represent 28 percent of total
population of the country (BBS, 2003). Population de
nsity in exposed coast is 482 persons per
square kilometer whereas the value
is 1,012 for the interior coast.
839
743
482
1012
0
200
400
600
800
1000
1200
Bangladesh
(average)
Coastal
zone
(average)
Exposed
coast
Interior
coast
Popul ati on per sq. km
Average population dens
ity of the zone is
743 per sq. km., and the same value for
Bangladesh average is 839 (Figure-2).
Population density in interior coast is much
higher than that of ex
terior coast and the
country’s average. There are about 6.8
million households in the zone of which 52
percent are absolute poor according to
Islam (2004; p.xvii).
Figure-2: Population density in the coastal zone of
Bangladesh
Fishing, agriculture, shrimp farming, salt farmi
ng and tourism are the main economic activities in
the coastal area. The Sundarbans is a major sour
ce of subsistence for almost 10 million people
(Islam & Haque, 2004). Main activities in the Sunda
rbans area are fisheries, wood collection and
honey collection. Almost ten thous
and households in the
area have neither homestead land nor
cultivable land. On the other hand, more than a m
illion households in the ar
ea have only homestead
but no cultivable land (Islam, 2004; p.136).
Per capita gross domestic product (GDP) for the co
astal zone was US$277, a li
ttle bit lo
wer than
that of national average (US$278)
, during the fiscal year 1999-2000.
8
278
277
428
352
193
0
50
100
150
200
250
300
350
400
450
Ba
n
g
la
d
es
h
Co as
t
al zon
e
Ch i tt a
g
on
g
Khul
n
a
Fe
n
i
US
$
Per capita GDP is higher in
Chittagong (US$428) and
Khulna (US$352) district.
Excluding these two districts,
GDP per capita in the coastal
zone falls to US$235. The
lowest GDP per capita is in Feni
district, having a value of
US$193 (Figure-3).
Figure-3: GDP per capita in the coastal zone
Per capita GDP is higher in Chittagong and Khulna di
strict because of industrialization in the area.
Sixteen coastal districts’ GDP per capita is belo
w the national average because of environmental
hazards and natural disasters. Low GDP per cap
ita and high population pressure reinforce each
other, preventing people to
get out of the poverty.
2.8 Infrastructures
There are 35,712 km of roads in the coastal zone in
cluding the rural earthen ways. But some of the
remote areas of the zone are still inaccessible by
road transport because of the river network. For
that reason water ways are the main transportation
mode in eastern and central coastal zone. Almost
all small and big cities of the
areas are connected with the cap
ital Dhaka by waterways. There are
also ship-breaking industries in
the zone at Fauzderhat, 20 km
South-west to Chittagong district,
extending 16 km long sea beach (Anderson et al., 2000). The industry is the second largest ship
breaking facilities in th
e world, supporting livelihood to about 100,000 people

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