Climate change: Strong communities and adapted ecosystems in Bangladesh and India

Participatory response to climate change, poverty and constant threat of natural disasters

Subject:
Environment and livelihoods

Location:
Ganges Delta,
State of West Bengal and State of Assam in India, Munshinganj district and Khulna district in Bangladesh

Duration:
01.10.2021 to 31.12.2024

Budget:
670.000 €, of which 499.000 € is a grant from the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ). The remaining 171.000 € is funded by Karuna Deutschland e.V. and Karuna Trust UK.

Target group reached:
10.750 direct beneficiaries, including 4.000 women, 4.000 farmers, agricultural experts, government officials, network organisations, institutions, and 160.000 people from 40.000 households in 400 villages.

Challenges

The Ganges Delta is a densely populated region and includes the largest mangrove forests in the world. The river delta is considered a hotspot of climate change and is the scene of an increasing number of natural disasters. Due to cyclones, floods, land erosion, sea level rise and saline intrusion, residents dependent on agriculture and fisheries face loss of cultivable land, unsafe groundwater and increasing poverty, displacement and lack of access to social services. Women in particular suffer the effects: the risk of sexual violence, including human trafficking and child marriage, increases. Hardship and economic pressure often lead to exploitation and abuse of women and girls. Rising poverty forces people to use resources increasingly less sustainably. The conversion of forest land for agricultural purposes and the destruction of mangrove forests further damage the already degraded ecosystem. The disaster preparedness and management that has been in place so far is rarely region-wide, often lacking coordination. The region threatens to become increasingly uninhabitable.

Erosion due to flooding

In addition to the main problem, increasing deforestation, the discharge of untreated sewage and erosion caused by frequent flooding and the rising sea level are also causing problems for the mangroves. Actually, their dense network of roots allows sediments to accumulate, forming natural dams against tidal waves, but it takes time for this to happen.

Project goal

In the vulnerable riverine and coastal region, the conditions are being created to holistically address the increasing impacts of climate change. A network is being established consisting of village communities, government departments and authorities. By involving authorities and increasing their capacities, disaster management will improve permanently. Local people will be empowered to better prepare for and respond to natural disasters with greater stability in cooperation with these institutions. People’s livelihoods will be adapted by modernising agricultural practices to improve livelihoods and ensure food security. Communities and local governments are encouraged to use more sustainable technologies and pursue green development. The economic situation of women and their legal protection is strengthened.

Erosion due to flooding

In addition to the main problem, increasing deforestation, the discharge of untreated sewage and erosion caused by frequent flooding and the rising sea level are also causing problems for the mangroves. Actually, their dense root network allows sediments to accumulate, forming natural dams against tidal waves, but it takes time for this to happen.

Main activities

  • Involving local, municipal and national authorities and building a network of experts in the fields of climate change, disaster management, agriculture and fisheries
  • Training of junior extension workers to provide information in village communities on climate-smart agriculture and disaster management and to work with women’s groups in particular
  • Training community representatives and youth and women’s groups within village communities to understand local disasters, their causal factors, early warning and evacuation, and the different phases of disaster response
  • Regularly recurring campaigns on climate-smart agriculture and training for farmers on agricultural practices
  • Training women’s groups in leadership and extension skills to provide support during and after disaster events
  • Extension and training for women farmers with specific agricultural training and on women’s rights and legal provisions
  • Trainings and workshops for government agencies to build capacity for environmental and climate-smart development interventions
  • National and transnational exchange of experience between experts at the end of the project and beyond, in order to network and deepen and expand the knowledge gained

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