Bangladesh Faces Worsening Climate-Driven Extreme Heat

Power cuts have become widespread, disrupting the export industry and heightening public health concerns

Bangladesh is increasingly grappling with severe heatwaves, a direct consequence of climate change. This situation has resulted in substantial economic and social setbacks, as the nation endures record-breaking temperatures significantly above its average monthly maximum of 30-33°C. Power cuts have become widespread, disrupting the export industry and heightening public health concerns.

Rising Temperatures in Dhaka:

Dhaka, the capital, has witnessed a stark rise in average temperatures over recent years. Historical data indicates an alarming increase of approximately 2.74°C over the past two decades. This rise exceeds the global average of about 1.2°C and surpasses the Paris Climate Agreement’s target of limiting warming to below 1.5°C.

Factors Amplifying Heat Waves:

Bangladesh’s tropical location exacerbates the effects of climate change. Urbanization and deforestation contribute to the “heat island effect,” where urban areas experience higher temperatures than rural regions. Dhaka, home to over 23 million people and the world’s fourth-most populous city, exemplifies this phenomenon.

Impact of Rising Sea Levels:

As climate change progresses, rising sea levels are projected to inundate 17% of Bangladesh’s low-lying areas by 2050, potentially displacing around 20 million people. The country ranks as the seventh-most vulnerable globally to climate impacts, facing heightened risks of flooding, sea-level rise, and cyclones, which imperil coastal regions and vulnerable communities.

Adaptation and Financial Challenges:

Bangladesh requires long-term adaptation strategies to mitigate global warming impacts. However, the country struggles to fund these measures independently. The World Bank estimates that Bangladesh needs USD 12.5 billion (3% of its GDP) in the medium term to support adaptation efforts.

Heat and Mental Health:

Extreme heatwaves have significant mental health repercussions. High temperatures correlate with increased anxiety, depression, and suicide rates. They also exacerbate aggression, violence, and substance use and impair cognitive functions like attention, memory, and reaction time. Sleep disturbances due to extreme heat further aggravate these symptoms.

Research has documented spikes in heat-related deaths among psychiatric patients and increased mental health emergencies during high heat and humidity periods. A 2023 study published in The Lancet Planetary Health highlighted that exposure to higher temperatures, humidity, and worsening floods in Bangladesh increases the likelihood of anxiety and depression. Specifically, a 1°C rise in temperature correlates with a 21% higher probability of anxiety disorders and a 24% higher likelihood of experiencing both depression and anxiety.


Bangladesh’s escalating extreme heat problem, fueled by climate change, poses severe economic, social, and health challenges. Immediate and sustained efforts, supported by global cooperation and substantial financial investment, are essential to address and mitigate these impacts. The findings underscore the urgent need for comprehensive climate adaptation strategies and increased mental health support to safeguard the well-being of the population.

The writer of this article is Dr. Seema Javed, an environmentalist & a communications professional in the field of climate and energy

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