Climate Change-Related New Record-Breaking Events: It’s Time to Think Outside the Box

Image by Paula Kaspar from Pixabay

By Esther Ngumbi
ILLINOIS, United States, Nov 28 2019 – Recently, Italy declared a State of Emergency because of record-breaking flooding while on 11 November, it did not rain anywhere on the continent of Australia, also breaking a record.

These are not the first record-breaking events of 2019. In July, Alaska, recorded temperature of 90 degrees, shattering previous records. During the same month, Mexico experienced a record-breaking hailstorm. In the preceding month, France experienced record-breaking temperatures, with a heat wave pushing the temperatures to 115 degrees Fahrenheit.

Meanwhile, as all the new record-breaking events, it is hard not to pause for a moment and wonder about the next record-breaking event and how many more we will see as climate change grows to be a bigger and bigger problem. What would it be? Where? When?  Who would be most impacted?

It is also clear that both wealthy and developing countries as well as the rich and poor are at risk, though the poor see a disproportionate impact on their daily lives. Collectively, humanity is at risk

One thing that is clear is that the impact of climate change has no boundaries. Every one of us regardless of the geographical region in which we live is prone to be impacted by climate change. It is also clear that both wealthy and developing countries as well as the rich and poor are at risk, though the poor see a disproportionate impact on their daily lives. Collectively, humanity is at risk.

What struck me most with the Italy record-breaking event is the areas and sectors affected most—tourism, museums and many other historically important and world famous monuments.  Impacted too by this event was Venice’s regional council building.

This departure from the traditional impact of climate change begs for the need to think outside the box and broaden our take on the impact climate change will have now and, in the years, to come. It also begs that we prepare, and act with a sense of urgency to mitigate climate change in order to prevent other catastrophic outcomes.

How then do we facilitate this thinking out of the box about climate change? How do we ensure that collectively, humanity understands that the impacts of climate change are borderless?  How best do we prepare for this new normal?

As a scientist, I know well that science has some of the answers.

We can turn to the power of predictive data to help determine where possible extreme events linked to a changing climate, such as flooding, excessive heating and droughts, would happen.  Sophisticated algorithms and statistical techniques such as machine learning, artificial intelligence and predictive modelling come into play to analyze data related to rainfall patterns, land temperature and other factors.

Data can then be used to send early warning about upcoming climate change-related events. By providing timely information based on predictive data, we can reduce risks and better prepare for effective response and early interventions.

One of the areas where predictive data is used is in predicting hurricanes. With data collected from various satellites including National Aeronautics and Space Administration satellites, the National Hurricane Center, part of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration National Weather service is able to forecast hurricanes. Once forecasted, the agency issues warning and public advisories.  As a result, early actions are taken.

Of course, the use of predictive data is not a silver bullet. We must continue other urgent measures including broadening the framing around climate change discussions so that everyone understands what is at stake when we choose not to care. This includes nurturing all the voices that are speaking out and calling for the need to act with urgency.

Importantly, there is need to listen to fresh ideas and voices coming from all regions of the world. One way to bring fresh thinking into the climate change discussion is to encourage more diverse experts from all regions of the world to contribute their ideas and thoughts by either writing opinion pieces or appearing in radio and TV interviews.

As such, the work by OpEd Project and the Aspen Institute New Voices program, that groom experts from developing countries so that they can contribute their thoughts in global discussions about climate change and other emerging challenges must be lauded. Such programs should continue.

Clearly, 2019, marks the beginnings of new normal. As such we must strive to think outside the box as we continue reaching out to everyday citizens from every part of the world with the message that everyone — regardless of their geographical location, their wealth and class, and stance on climate change –stands to be affected. We must act with urgency.

 

Dr. Esther Ngumbi is an Assistant Professor at the Entomology Department, University of Illinois at Urbana Champaign. She is a Senior Food security fellow with the Aspen Institute and has written opinion pieces for various outlets including NPR, CNN, Los Angeles Times, Aljazeera and New York Times. You can follow Esther on Twitter @EstherNgumbi.

Bangladeshi Migrant Female Domestic Workers Face Violence

Credit: ILO

By Nayema Nusrat
NEW YORK, Nov 28 2019 – Millions of Bangladeshi women are facing violence either as domestic housemaids or as migrant workers in Gulf countries. A few days ago, a video in social media, secretly filmed by a Bangladeshi housemaid employed in Saudi Arabia, caught everyone’s attention where she was helplessly crying and begging to be rescued from her abusive employer.

A large number of women from Bangladesh leave their families behind and travel thousands of miles away from home with the hope to get better earnings and ensure a better future for their children and family. While many women realize their expected hope, others face a different reality – suffering through insurmountable cruelty and mistreatment by their foreign employers and find no one to turn to for immediate rescue.

Another extremely common form of violence is inflicted by not getting their due salaries as promised despite the hours of hard labor they provide.

In the video, this young woman Sumi was hiding in the toilet, crying for help and begging to be brought back home. She said, “I might not live any longer; I think I am about to die, please keep me alive, take me back to Bangladesh quickly”, she said in “Bangla”. In the video she stated that her owners locked her up in a room for 15 days and barely gave her any food. They burned her arms with boiling hot oil and tied her down.

She also alleged that she was sexually assaulted by her employers. “They made me go from one home to another. In the first home, they tortured me and hit me repeatedly and then took me to another one where I experienced the same”. She was denied any medical treatment by her former employer.

Another very recent story of Husna, 24, surfaced in social media within just a few days of the Sumi incident, who also went to Saudi Arabia through a Bangladeshi broker agency called “Arab World Distribution”. She sent a video message to her husband Shafiullah, begging for help to free her from the abusive work conditions – she had faced physical violence ever since her arrival there.

Credit: United Nations

The contacts at the local broker agency in Saudi Arabia denied her of any assistance with derogatory words and attempted to hit her. In the video message to her husband she also describes how her owner turned crueler towards her since she expressed the urge to return home.

The recruiting agency in Dhaka demanded an additional 100,000 taka (USD 1178.11) from Akter’s husband if she is to break the two years initial contract to work abroad, as he reached out to them for help.

Most Bangladeshi workers are recruited by “Dalals” (chain of sub-recruiters connected to the recruitment agencies in the country). Women who go for work to Saudi Arabia or other Middle Eastern countries come from very poor families in rural areas and are often duped by these “Dalals”, realizing soon after they arrive for work. They often receive false promises of salaries of about 20,000 taka (USD 235) per month but rarely get written job contracts although it’s a legal requirement.

These recruiters typically charge them a large amount of recruitment fee for arranging to work abroad. These poor women arrange money either by mortgaging or selling their properties or getting loans with a very high interest rate.

Rothna Begum, a senior researcher from Human Rights Watch (HRW) told IPS, “Most of these women are already in debt before they even started to work abroad, as the recruitment fees combined with loans with high interest rates keep accumulating”.

These women workers are employed in Gulf countries under ‘Kafala’ immigration system. ‘Kafala’ is an employment framework in the six countries of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) that require sponsorship from a national for migrant workers to be employed and reside in the country. The sponsor, either an individual or a company, possesses substantial control over the worker.

(The GCC is a political and economic alliance of six Middle Eastern countries— Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, the United Arab Emirates, Qatar, Bahrain, and Oman.)

Begum stressed on how the ‘Kafala’ system across the gulf countries make the domestic workers more vulnerable to abuse. She noted, “in the GCC states under the restrictive ‘Kafala’ immigration rule, migrant workers’ visas are tied to their employers so they cannot change jobs without their employer’s consent. Migrant workers who escape an abusive employer can be punished for “absconding” with imprisonment, fines, and deportation”.

Human Rights Watch (HRW) interviewed hundreds of migrant domestic workers in GCC countries over the years, and almost all of them claimed that their employers had confiscated their passports, phones and restricted their communication.

Some women claimed that as they are typically already coming with so much debt, they feel trapped in exploitative situations, as they feel bound to stay to recoup their money and pay off debt.

Some brave ones risked their lives trying to escape by climbing down tall buildings or jumping off balconies. But those who escaped typically found little or no help from local police. Their employers accused them of criminal activities such as theft or absconding to the police.

HRW’s Begum said “often domestic workers dropped any claims against their employers, in exchange for their employers dropping their own accusations, just so the women could go home. Others found the process of appealing for their unpaid salaries or filing criminal complaints prohibitively lengthy and costly, as they are not allowed to work for another employer during an appeal”.

Ovibashi Karmi Unnayan Program (OKUP), a Bangladeshi Migrant Rights Group released results of a study with 110 returnees, where the number shows that majority had not been able to effectively or safely make money in Saudi; 86 percent among the women interviewed said their Saudi employers didn’t pay their salaries, 61 percent said they had been physically abused, and 14 percent said their owners sexually abused them.

And returning home to Bangladesh doesn’t necessarily guarantee they will still be safe from their ‘Dalals’. Some who returned were beaten up by them for demanding the salaries as promised.

This year BRAC (Building Resources Across Communities), one of the largest Non-Governmental Organizations (NGO) in the world, released new figures showing that 1,300 Bangladeshi women had returned from Saudi Arabia in 2018 because of sexual and physical abuse at the hands of their Saudi employers. They also said that this year alone, the bodies of 48 female workers were brought back from Saudi Arabia.

Nuri, another Bangladeshi woman who was tortured and worked without pay in the home of a Saudi family for two months told Thomson Reuters Foundation, “My ‘Dalal’ beat me up and broke my leg when I filed a case against him. I was in the hospital for 15 days. I stay with a friend right now, far away from my house because [the broker] lives nearby my place”.

Nuri held her ground strongly to find justice and is determined about fighting the case in the court – “After he beat me up, I am not turning back”.

Shamim Ara Nipa, a freelance social worker in Bangladesh told IPS, “most of the time these migrant workers do not have proper contact information to reach out to the country of origin agency or the embassy directly for help”.

Nipa also noted that the Saudi Government had been helpful in repatriation of these migrant workers as long as Bangladeshi Government is cooperating. The Bangladesh Government typically steps in when the story of a worker gets highlighted via social media or group protest, such as the case of Sumi who is now in a safe place thanks to BRAC, Bangladeshi Government and it’s Embassy in Saudi Arabia; but there are numbers of other similar violence cases in Gulf countries which never surfaced in mass media, therefore remained silent and unresolved due to lack of government intervention.

Although the Government admits that Bangladeshi workers face violence while working in Saudi Arabia, it rules out the idea of banning female workers going to Saudi Arabia.

Violence against Bangladeshi women workers is still ongoing at an alarming rate; Bangladesh should ensure that it provides the highest protection for its workers abroad, including by increasing oversight over its own recruiting agents, offering protection for its workers in host countries, and aiding workers in distress.

It’s understandable that there are actions and policies that are pursued by the Government of Bangladesh and the United Nations; however, better outcomes are expected while the policies and actions are being implemented and monitored closely.

2019 Global Gender Summit marks concrete gains and actionable goals to surge ahead on gender equality

Highlights of the Summit include the launch of:

    • AFAWA risk-sharing facility to de-risk lending to women
    • 50 Million African Women Speak, a Pan-African networking platform
    • Joint UNECA-African Development bank Gender index

By PRESS RELEASE
KIGALI, Rwanda, Nov 28 2019 (IPS-Partners)

“We’ve known it from the beginning that equality and women’s empowerment is the true way for sustainable development,” Rwanda’s Minister of Gender and Family Promotion, Solina Nyirahabimana told reporters at a 2019 Global Gender Summit press conference on Tuesday.

“During this past 25 years, we have been concentrating on gender equality, starting by creating a conducive environment, uprooting, revising, and abolishing discriminative laws. We’ve worked tirelessly to have women included in the financial sector,” Nyirahabimana said.

“When you don’t understand women, you can’t serve them.”

More than 1,200 delegates are in Kigali, Rwanda for the 2019 Global Gender Summit including distinguished guests such as the President of Rwanda Paul Kagame; the President of Ethiopia, Sahle-Work Zewde; the African Union Chairperson Moussa Faki Mahamat, and the First Ladies of Rwanda and Kenya. Also in attending are representatives of the heads of state of Gabon, Mali, Senegal, Chad, and the King of Morocco and gender ministers from Niger, Somalia, Senegal, South Sudan, Tunisia, and Libya.

African Development Bank Group Vice President for Agriculture, Human and Social Development, Dr. Jennifer Blanke, told journalists that much of Summit conversation centered around growing awareness that women need to be part of the development solution. “Women are a force to be unleashed and supported to ensure that they can really do their part in development in Africa. Women are already such a hugely important part of the development process,” she said.

Key highlights from the 2019 Global Gender Summit include the:

    Launch of the risk-sharing facility for the Bank-led Affirmative Finance Action for Women in Africa, or AFAWA, programme – to support the program’s three-pronged approach, which seeks to quickly close the gender gap by facilitating access to finance, providing technical assistance and creating an enabling business environment for women-led businesses to thrive.
    50 Million African Women Speak – a new Pan-African networking platform and web and mobile-based application to directly connect 50 million African women entrepreneurs. The platform links women to financial institutions and provides networking opportunities across Africa.
    The joint United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (UNECA)-African Development Bank Africa Gender Index – a report that assesses African countries on gender equality.
    Fashionomics Africa Digital Marketplace and mobile app – the first ever digital B2B and B2C pan-African networking platform, dedicated to micro, small and medium-sized enterprises operating in the African textile, apparel and accessories industries.

Also speaking at the press conference marking the close of the Summit’s multilateral development bank segment, the Chairperson of the Multilateral Development Banks’ Gender working group Chairperson, Sonomi Tanaka, said summit discussions were productive and some African countries are carrying out good practices. However, Tanaka noted the critical importance of data in development policies working toward gender equality. “Again and again, this is something that is coming up. This lack of data comes up across any topic…and data is one area we need to continue to focus on,” she said.

Elaborating on the data challenge, Blanke said, “There is a dearth of data on these issues. The bottom line is if we don’t measure it, you don’t do it. If you don’t measure, it means you don’t care about it – and we care about it.”

This Tuesday press conference was the latest in a series of Global Gender Summit activities that will see delegates attend Summit partner-organized workshops, trainings and technical sessions on Wednesday. The Global Gender Summit is organized by The African Development Bank, with other multilateral development bank partners. The biennial event brings together leaders from government, development institutions, the private sector, civil society, and academia.

Under the theme “Unpacking constraints to gender equality,” the Summit’s conversations and dialogue focuses on scaling up innovative financing, enabling legal, regulatory, and institutional environments; and securing women’s participation and voices.

Commenting on the Summit outcome Blanke noted: “The Summit has been all about doing. Doing more and doing it fast.”

Contact: Grace Kiire, Communication and External Relations Department, African Development Bank, email: g.kiire@afdb.org

Did Sri Lanka’s Presidential Election Bring Back a Polarising Wartime Figure?

The new President of Sri Lanka after he was sworn in. Credit: Sunday Times, Sri Lanka

By Dr. Palitha Kohona
COLOMBO, Sri Lanka, Nov 28 2019 – The Economist proclaimed recently that Gotabaya Rajapaksa, the man who, as secretary of defense, presided over this horrifying episode (the final phase of Sri Lanka’s terrorist inspired internal conflict), has just been elected president of Sri Lanka.

To Sinhalese Buddhists, about 70% of the population, he is a hero. After all, the militia he destroyed was appallingly cruel and bloodthirsty and had tormented Tamils as much as, if not more than, other Sri Lankans.

It never ceases to amaze how ‘liberal’ the liberal and free press gets when describing events that it has not witnessed and individuals of whom it does not approve for reasons that cannot be explained readily or logically. This approach is not limited to one country or one person.

On 16th November, Sri Lanka’s electors (almost 84% of them exercised their franchise freely, according to all observers) democratically elected Gotabhaya Rajapaksa as president confounding many foreign analysts. His lead was almost 12 percentage points. His victory was greeted with widespread and raucous jubilation across the country, with fire crackers being lit and free milk rice being distributed.

But, disappointingly, no Western media outlet highlighted this clear victory of President Gotabhaya Rajapaksa or his forward-looking policy platform for which the majority voted. Instead a narrative based on allegations and conjecture continues to be spewed out, conveniently backed by negative western NGOs.

Almost all media outlets in the West continue to brand Rajapaksa as the “Strong man, the alleged war criminal and human rights violator.” The minorities apparently live in fear of the incoming administration.

The Economist, which is reputed for its “trustworthy” reporting of facts for over a century, referring to the end of the terrorist inspired conflict in May 2009, proclaimed grandly that “the army surrounded 100,000 civilians on a tiny sliver of beach, barely three square kilometers in size.”

Mixed in among them were a small number of separatist guerrillas, the remnants of a once-formidable force that had been battling for an independent state for the country’s Tamil minority for 26 years. The insurgents had no compunction about using innocent villagers as human shields.

The army claimed to have more scruples: it had designated the area a “no-fire zone”, where civilians could safely gather. Nonetheless, it continued to shell the beach mercilessly. The UN warned that a humanitarian disaster was unfolding and urged the government to declare a ceasefire, to no avail. In the end, resistance crumbled and the army took control.

But the beach was left piled with bodies, with more floating in the adjacent lagoon. The number of civilians who died in the final phase of the war, the UN concluded years later after a long investigation, was probably in the “tens of thousands”.

Obviously, facts were not allowed to interfere with this grand and heart wrenching narrative. The so-called spit of land, to which the LTTE had forced the civilians to flee, was about 26 square kilometers in extent. The LTTE had forced the civilians to flee to this area to be used as a human shield.

Obviously, it had been planned with devilish-cunning that this civilian shield would force the government forces to slow down their advance or, better still, goaded the international community to intervene. The bonus was that dead civilians would later provide the convenient grounds for alleging that war crimes had been committed, quite ignoring that the civilians had been forced in to that situation by the LTTE itself.

The number of civilians who were later to cross the lagoon and escape to the government side was around 297,000 – not 100,000. It was not a handful of fighters who held the “eight mile stretch of land” but over 12,000, who later surrendered to the security forces.

To this day, no one has located, despite desperate efforts, the graves of the tens of thousands of bodies that were piled up on the beach or floating in the lagoon. No burial pits have been found and the burials would have required a large force of grave diggers who were not available as most able-bodied Tamils were manning the LTTE defenses, either voluntarily or under coercion. A vast armoury of heavy and light weapons were recovered by the security forces,

Rt. Hon. Lord Naseby’s revelations in the House of Lords on 5 February, 2019, based on the reports of the UK Military Attaché in Colombo, Antony Gash, are available in the public domain. Gash had recorded in a dispatch dated 16 February 2009 concerning 400 IDPs being transferred from the fighting area to Trincomalee, “The operation was efficient and effective, but most importantly was carried out with compassion, respect and concern. I am entirely certain that this was genuine — my presence was not planned and was based on a sudden opportunity”.

Lord Naseby goes on to say, “There are many more references in the dispatches to the fact that it was never a policy of the Sri Lankan Government to kill civilians.”

He adds, “I have one other reference that I think is useful. It comes from the University Teachers for Human Rights, which is essentially a Tamil organization. It says: “From what has happened we cannot say that the purpose of bombing or shelling by the government forces was to kill civilians … ground troops took care not to harm civilians”.

He quotes another passage, “Soldiers who entered the No Fire Zone on 19th April 2009 and again on the 9th and 15th May acted with considerable credit when they reached … civilians. They took risks to protect civilians and helped … the elderly who could not walk. Those who escaped have readily acknowledged this”.

Lord Naseby estimated that the maximum number of civilians killed was probably around 6000. Not tens of thousands as proclaimed by the Economist.

There has been no military conflict in history where no civilians have suffered. This number killed in the last days of the Sri Lankan conflict may have included combatants fighting in civvies.

The figure quoted by Lord Naseby broadly confirms the internal figure compiled by the UN office in Colombo and the census figure compiled later. But what is important is Lord Naseby’s conclusion that civilians were not the target of the military operation.

Why let published facts get in the way of a heart wrenching story if it serves to vilify someone who has been slated to be tarred.

Over 55% of the Tamils of Sri Lanka and the overwhelming preponderance of Muslims live in and among the majority Sinhala population. Surprisingly, no one seems to have noticed anyone in these communities living in fear as claimed by the Economist or making any effort, with bag and baggage, to move to the safety of the North or the East.

Of course, some in these communities, remembering the disturbances in Kandy during the last regime and the those in Aluthgama during the previous regime, may express reservations that please the ears of foreign journalists to juice up their stories.

But by and large, the children of the minority communities go to school every day as before, their businesses continue to flourish and their temples and mosques remain crowded.

General Sarath Fonseka (now Field Marshal) who commanded the army during the final phase of the conflict and contested the country’s presidency in 2010, in spite of being routed in the South, comfortably won all the Tamil-speaking majority electoral districts in the North and the East. Obviously, the electorate did not think of him as a killer of Tamil civilians.

Running from the Storm – How Bangladesh’s Climate Migrants are Becoming Food Secure

Ruma Begum and her husband collect pumpkins from their vegetable field. Credit: Rafiqul Islam/IPS

By Rafiqul Islam
BHOLA, Bangladesh, Nov 28 2019 – It was almost a decade ago when Ruma Begum and her family left their home in Bangladesh’s coastal Tazumuddin upazila or sub-district and travelled some 50 km away to start a new life. They had been driven out of their home by an extreme and changing climate that has continued to ravage the district of Bhola.

“Due to river erosion and salinity intrusion in agriculture in Tazimuddin where we lived in the past, we were compelled to migrate to Charhazarigong leaving everything behind. But our early days were not so easy as there was no adequate livelihood options,” Ruma, a mother of two, told IPS about her family’s 2010 move to Char Fassion upazila in Charhazarigong union.

When you can’t run from a changing climate

In Char Fassion upazila, about 80 percent of the 1,650 families comprise climate migrants.

When Ruma’s family first arrived there her husband began work as a day labourer and then later as a smallholder farmer on a leased piece of agricultural land. But they had moved from one coastal area to another and her husband did not produce many crops because of saltwater intrusion, regular floods and recurrent cyclones.

  • Because of government interventions in agriculture, Bangladesh has already achieved sufficiency in food. According to the Food Sustainability Index 2018 of the Barilla Centre for Food and Nutrition, the deep placement method used by millions of farmers in Bangladesh reduces fertiliser use by about 30 percent and increases yields by 15 percent to 20 percent.
  • But, a 2016 report by BRAC, the world’s largest international development organisation based and founded in Bangladesh, says about 27 million people in the country are predicted to be at risk of sea level rise by 2050, while two-thirds of this South Asian nation’s land remains less than five metres above sea level.
  • Bangladesh is one of the world’s most-densely populated countries, with a population of about 165 million living on a land size slightly larger than Greece — with the latter only having a population of some 11 million.

Mahmud Hassan, Additional Secretary from the Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change, told IPS, “Bangladesh is experiencing natural calamities like cyclones and frequent floods, which affect negatively the lives and livelihoods of coastal population.”

  • More than 50,000 farmers were affected this month when Cyclone Bulbul hit the country’s southern coastal region.
  • About 22,836 hectares of crops were damaged by the November-10 cyclone, resulting in the loss of 72,200 tonnes of crops worth about Taka 263 crore (around $ 32 million), Agriculture Minister Muhammad Abdur Razzaque told a press conference on Nov.12.

When farmers don’t know what to do

When they couldn’t grow rice, Ruma’s family tried to cultivate vegetables. But until last year the crop continued to be damaged because of saltwater intrusion.

“So we had to pass very hard days with one son and a girl child. That time, my children suffered from malnutrition as most of the days we remained hungry for lack of food,” Ruma remembered.

There weren’t the only ones.

Sazzad Hossain Talukder, the Tazimuddin Upazila Agriculture Officer, said due to the saltwater intrusion and waterlogging, which occurred after cyclones and floods, coastal communities had been failing to produce enough crops and vegetable.

The 24 other families with whom they had migrated from Tazimuddin with also experienced the same crop failure, Ruma acknowledged.

But they didn’t know what to do or how to adapt. Maruf Hossain Minar, senior fisheries officer of Char Fassion, said for more than a decade local communities who lost crops and vegetables because of extreme climatic events did not know how to adapt.

Needing help to adapt

But in 2017, with support from United Nation’s development agency’s Integrating Community-based Adaptation into Afforestation and Reforestation Programme (ICBA-AR), the sluice water gates by the district were renovated, bringing an end to the saltwater intrusion. The U.N. Development Programme (UNDP) also implemented a project to help vulnerable coastal communities adapt through teaching them livelihood diversification and linking that to forest stewardship.

According to UNDP, the project is being implemented in four of Bangladesh’s most vulnerable coastal districts of Patuakhali, Barguna, Bhola and Noakhali.

Thanks to the project, people are able to produce crops again, but this time they have been taught about integrated agriculture, which Penn State University explains as “farming systems with environmental, economic, social, and intergenerational sustainability”.

  • Coastal communities learned about climate-tolerant, floating vegetable cultivation — an alternative method of cultivating vegetables by making frames with wood and bamboo. Here the roots of plants are in the ground on the banks of waterbodies and the plant is supported by the wood frames.
  • They were also taught how to farm fish in stagnant water — a method where a pond is created in small waterbodies.
  • The new methods provide year-round vegetables and protein for household consumption.

According to Talukder, the farmers can now harvest their crops three times a year as opposed to twice yearly as in previous years.

“The ICBA-AR project provides climate resilient diversified livelihood support to 10,500 coastal, poor households to adapt … to climate change. Most of the livelihood interventions of the project … are helping to meet the nutritional demand of the coastal poor households significantly,” Hassan, who is also the national project director of ICBA-AR, said.

Steady supply of food and steady nutrition

It has also provided food security for coastal farmers.

“After meeting our family demand, we sold vegetables and fish of Taka 3 lakh ($ 3,750) and are expecting to sell more Taka 2 lakh ($ 2,500) within one year,” Ruma said.

“Earlier we cultivated only vegetables. If there was a cyclone or a flood it got damaged and we had a deep shortage. But now if the vegetables are damaged we can benefit by fish farming,” she added.

Another farmer, Ibrahim Miah, said poor people like himself could not previously purchase vegetables for their diets because of their restricted incomes.

He told IPS that the cultivation of floating vegetables worked well for those who didn’t have access to land that was not vulnerable to becoming flooded or waterlogged.

“Once we had a very hardship in the family. We could not effort three meals [a day] even. Now the situation has changed. Now there is no food crisis and hunger in my family,” Ruma said.