Climate disasters drive Bangladesh children from classrooms to work

(Reuters, 9 May 2022) A growing flood of Bangladeshi children are seeing their education end permanently as they flee climate impacts for urban slums.

Twelve-year-old Alamin's house rested on the bank of the Ilsha river in southern Bangladesh until last year, when the surging river eroded it and the family's farmland away, forcing them to flee to a slum in Keraniganj, close to the capital Dhaka.

Now Alamin - whose father died of cancer a couple years back - works on a shipbreaking crew and his mother cooks for the workers. Together they earn just enough to feed and house  themselves and Alamin's two younger siblings, now 3 and 5.

"Once we were solvent. My husband earned from our cultivable land and my son was reading in a local primary school," said Amina Begum, Alamin's mother.

But after losing their property to the river and their savings to failed cancer treatments, work is all Alamin can now expect, she lamented.

As more extreme weather drives worsening flooding, erosion and storms in low-lying Bangladesh, thousands of families like hers are moving to the slums of Dhaka.

For many of their children - who are battling climate change impacts alongside their parents - the move means the end of education, and the start of a lifetime of hard work.

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Reuters, 9 May 2022: Climate disasters drive Bangladesh children from classrooms to work