| ||Shared by Bangladesh and India, the vast swampy plains of the Bengal Delta (35.907 square miles or 93.000 square kilometers) were built up by the enormous volumes of alluvial deposits transported from the Himalaya Mountains by three large rivers –the Ganges, the Brahmaputra and the Meghna– and by a network of diverting channels and secondary rivers. About five million Bangladeshis live on the «chars», short-lived alluvial islands formed by the accummulation of sand and silt. On these islands, the inhabitants grow rice, the staple food of the Bangladeshi diet. In spite of the natural fertility of the muddy soil, the yield remain low because of climatic uncertainties. Indeed, during the summer monsoon rains, from June till September, more than 20 percent of the delta of Bangladesh is regularly flooded and much more when the same year exceptionnal monsoon floods are followed by cyclone. In 2007, floods caused the loss of 1.8 million tons of rice thet would feed 10 million people during a year. This is why the country financed the development of several new varieties of rice which whithstand a flooding of over a week. When a char is submerged, their inhabitants find refuge on the river bank sand nearby islands while waiting for the water level to drop. But it happens that the char is completely eroded. It is then necessary to wait months, even years, before seeing it reappearing in the riverbed. The average life of a « char » is from 10 to 25 years. According to the Intergovernmental Pannel on Climate Change (IPCC), the rise of the sea level could gobble up 17 percent of the total surface of Bangladesh before 2050, making at least 20 million people homeless.
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