When the super cyclone Amphan made landfall in Bangladesh in May 2020, 55,000 houses were destroyed in the country. Wasim Ali, 45, lived in one of them. The tidal surge that the storm whipped up swept away his house and razed his small one-acre farm in Protapnagar in Bangladesh’s southwestern Satkhira district. Tens of thousands of people were left destitute after this massive natural disaster. But misery runs deeper for Wasim.
In addition to the loss of his home and farm, the disaster also left him with no way to pay back a debt of 42,000 Bangladeshi takas ($440), an amount he’d borrowed from a bank as an agricultural loan. He’d pledged his farmland as collateral, and says he’s now afraid to face the bank’s officials.
“I can barely support my family of five on the small piece of land I managed to squeeze out since the disaster. It is impossible to repay the loan against a piece of land that does not even exist anymore,” Wasim says.
Collateral pledged wiped out
Nearly a third of Bangladesh’s total land mass lies in its coastal zone, spanning 47,201 square kilometers, according to a study. This zone is home to about 35 million people, or 29% of the country’s population.
These communities are heavily…