Geography KS3 / GCSE: Rising sea levels in Bangladesh

Ade Adepitan travels to Bangladesh to find out how a combination of rising sea levels and extreme weather events is affecting life.

He meets Dipok Mondal, one of the few people still living in his village in Bangladesh. Once, 4000 people lived there but now there are just a couple of hundred left, on a tiny strip of land.

Over time the water has weakened the land and bit by bit it’s literally been washed away. Dipok now lives on the very last patch of what was once six acres of land.

This clip is taken from the BBC Two series, Climate Change: Ade on the Frontline.

Teacher Notes

Before watching the film

If you have already watched the other clips in this series concerning climate refugees in Dhaka and melting glaciers in Bhutan, it would be helpful to recap these film clips, identify Bangladesh on a map and discuss what students already know and think about the country and particularly the issues it faces through climate change. The first clip revealed that 1000 people a day were moving from low-lying areas of the country to the capital city of Dhaka.

This film shows an example of the conditions that are putting people under stress and causing some to move. You might ask students to imagine and describe what they expect to see.

During the film

You may wish to stop at relevant points during this short film to pose questions and check understanding or wait until the end. Useful questions might include:

  • How many people lived here and how many remain? (4000 and now 200)
  • How much land did Dipok have when he started farming? (six acres)
  • What kind of farming did Dipok used to do and what does he do now?

You could discuss how he once had a barn full of cows and fertile land where he grew rice and had a pond full of fish. Now he survives fishing for mainly crabs – as do other people who live here.

  • What is the effect on the ecosystem if many people are relying on one food source?
  • What are the factors causing land loss here?

You could then discuss the combination of factors that include increased extreme weather conditions, such as cyclones and heavy monsoon rains; melt water from the Himalayas, storm surges causing water to erode already fragile riverbanks, the existing problem of low-lying land and encroaching sea level rise.

  • How would you feel to be Dipok?
  • What options do you have?

Following on from the film

Where exactly is this place in Bangladesh? Watch the film again and ask students to gather clues so they can locate it on a map. At one point, Dipok explains that although he has only lived in his current house for four years he was "… born here in Kalabogi". Finding this place on the map and looking at it in both map and aerial view, shows how little land remains here in relation to surrounding water.

You could discuss with students what options there are to combat flooding and the usefulness of different approaches for this location and situation. You could identify short term solutions to flooding and identify these, such as government food aid and water purification tablets, repairing river embankments and giving farmers new seed. How practical and useful do students think these short-term solutions are?

Students could identify longer term solutions such as building river embankments, flood retreat areas and afforestation, and evaluate those that might be effective in this situation. As a lower income country Bangladesh does not have the money to pay for flood defences. Do students think it is fair that poorer countries such as Bangladesh are feeling the effects of climate change far worse than some richer countries who may be contributing more to climate change through their lifestyle emissions?

You might ask students to research and make recommendations for a plan of action that would be sustainable here for people, environment, and the economy. What global solutions are needed to mitigate the effects of climate change?

Curriculum Notes

This short film is suitable for teaching KS3 and KS4 students.

It can be used alongside the other Ade Adepitan films about climate change or watched on its own but it links well with the other clips about climate refugees travelling to Dhaka, tree planting and melting glaciers in Bhutan. All the films build on students’ understanding of climate change issues and enable them to make global connections.

This film supports the KS3 geography curriculum by investigating our changing climate, flooding and its impacts, with opportunities to develop a case study in Bangladesh.

At KS4, the film supports understanding the effects of climate change, natural hazards, coastal and river flooding and land management.

This clip could be used to support the delivery of geography to KS3 and KS4 students. Specifically, this topic appears in OCR, Edexcel, AQA, WJEC KS4/GCSE in England and Wales, CCEA GCSE in Northern Ireland and SQA National 4/5 in Scotland.

More from Climate Change: Ade on the Frontline

Climate refugees in Dhaka, Bangladesh
Melting glaciers in Bhutan
Planting trees in Bhutan