January 03, 2004


Bangladesh is being hit by a cold wave across the country. At least 51 people, mostly children and the elderly, died in the last three days.

The temperature is not that low, as you would imagine hearing this news. It is around 9-12 degrees Celsius, the northern region being the lowest. But it is well below the usual average 15 degrees in winter. Extreme foggy conditions are making things worse specially hampering Air traffic and marine transports. Tiny dewdrops are falling like rain and its even biting in Dhaka where the temperature was around 11-14 degree Celsius. The fog is absorbing body heat and thus intensifying cold.

This cold is being dwelt in the urban areas well but in villages, many houses are not equipped to protect people from this cold (as they are made of Bamboo or wood/mud). The cold wave is taking its toll on the poor who does not have heavy blankets or winter cloths. The only recluse for them is to light bonfires to fend off the bite of cold and urban people are preferring to stay indoors.

The bad news is that the cold wave will last a few days more. We have seen some extreme temperatures both in summer and winter as the weather is changing. Hope the poor survives this winter. The people of Bangladesh, especially in village areas should now contemplate of equipping their houses with insulating materials to fight out severe colds in future. That would be a huge task for the poor households and I think govt. and NGOs should come up with an action plan.

There are programs of donating winter cloths and blankets to the have-nots being taken by some organizations. I think these programs should extend to all parts of the country and distribution of clothes and blankets in time should be ensured.


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