Doha, Qatar – For the world’s most vulnerable and poorest countries, loss and damage related to climate change is a reality today, despite adaptation measures.

A new study draws evidence of loss and damage from five case studies conducted among 1800 households in Bangladesh, Bhutan, The Gambia, Kenya, and Micronesia.

“Our findings reveal how communities cope with and adapt to climate change impacts. Above all we see that Loss and Damage is a reality today and the numbers are alarming. It is happening even though adaption measures are taken,” said Dr. Koko Warner, Scientific director at the UN University in Bonn.

In Micronesia 92% of respondents were still experiencing adverse impacts, followed by 87% in Bhutan, 72% in Kenya, 70% in Bangladesh and 66% in The Gambia.

The report was presented by the UN University Institute for Environment and Human Security (UNU-EHS) as a part of the Climate Development Knowledge Network (CDKN) Loss and Damage in Vulnerable Countries Initiative.

Referring to Bangladesh, Dr.Saleemul Huq, Director, International Centre for Climate Change and Development (ICCAD) and Senior Fellow, International Institute for Environment and Development (IIED) noted that 81 per cent of the survey respondents reported high salinity (salt contents) levels in their soils, compared to only two per cent 20 years ago.

“Rice farmers have learned to adapt to increasing salinity in their soils until 2009 when cyclone Aila hit Bangladesh. In the two subsequent years, salinity levels were so high that rice yields were decimated. The total loss of rice harvest amounted to US$1.9 million for just the four villages surveyed,” he added.

Dr. Pa Ousman Jarju, Chair of the Least Developed Countries (LDC) 48-member group described the results of the report as a climate justice issue.

“Countries that contribute least to global greenhouse emissions are the ones bearing the burden of loss and damage even though they have the most limited capacity to cope and adapt, “he said.

The new report, he noted, sheds light on the possibilities and constraints countries face in their fight against climate change.

“Ignoring this knowledge can either mean our collective success or failure in stemming the pathways to loss and damage, “he added.

Linda Hutchinson-Jafar is Editor of Earth Conscious Magazine

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