The Third Pole’s top stories of 2023

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A woman and her child who had been relocated to a makeshift camp in July 2023, after the Yamuna River overflowed due to heavy monsoon rainfall IMAGE/Shivam Khannai / Alamy

From the intersection of gender and climate change in Pakistan to the sinking Mekong Delta in Vietnam, our editors select the most impactful and memorable stories from the past year

‘Water lords’ extort drought-stricken farmers in Bangladesh

by OMAIR AHMAD (managing editor, South Asia)

A tubewell irrigates rice seedlings in Jamalpur, northern Bangladesh IMAGE/Mamunur Rashid/Alamy

This is a story of both the past and the future. The water-stressed Barind Tract, where about 40% of Bangladesh’s rice is grown, has seen extensive human intervention. Outside the country, some of the waters of the transboundary Ganga and the Teesta rivers are diverted by India before they reach Bangladesh.

The use of deep-water pumps has created a sort of water stability in the region, but has also empowered those who own private pumps, as well as a state water bureaucracy that is insulated from the wants of marginal farmers. The owners of private pumps are both Hindu and Muslim, as are those who suffer, with indigenous and repressed caste groups being the most impacted. Solar pumps – though cleaner – have done nothing to change this dynamic.

The greatest impact of climate change is on water availability, and as the climate crisis deepens, these inequities will become more pronounced. There are no easy, technocratic solutions to the poor and marginalised being deprived of what they need to survive, even if their efforts are what feed the world.

Read the full story here.

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