Thousands of people living in riverine char areas have successfully adapted themselves to adverse impacts of climate change like floods, river erosion and abject poverty.
Officials and experts said some six lakh people of over 1.33 lakh distressed families living in char areas have achieved the triumph on the Brahmaputra basin after decades-long struggles with natural disasters to lead better life now.
The Chars Livelihoods Programme (CLP), a joint initiative of the government and non-government organisations, brought the significant changes to the livelihood and living standard of the char people during the 2004-2016 periods.
Earlier, these have-nots group char people, who became homeless and landless due to river erosion and floods, had to struggle every day only to get some food for survival of their family members.
Side by side with helping the char people to adapt to adverse situations under changing climate, the comprehensive CLP programme helped them to generate incomes along with successfully managing the natural risks and challenges.
Mamunur Rashid, Senior Coordinator (Agriculture and Environment) of RDRS Bangladesh, one of the CLP programme implementation partners, said the programme effectively assisted the char people to manage natural risks and disasters for survival.
“Successful implementation of the CLP programme, have helped six lakh char people in achieving self-reliance through income generation activities to improve livelihoods under adverse situations after successfully adapting to changing climate,” Rashid said.
The interventions to adapt to adverse impacts of climate change began with building houses on raised plinths to protect the houses of the char people during flooding periods in the rainy season.
“Implementation of the CLP programme was implemented in the riverine island chars of Kurigram, Bogra, Gaibandha, Sirajganj, Jamalpur, Lalmonirhat, Nilphamari, Rangpur, Pabna and Tangail districts on the Brahmaputra basin in 2016,” Rashid added.
Talking to BSS recently, CLP beneficiaries Mahmuda, Rahela and Kulsum Begum narrated as how they successfully adapted them to climate change in Purbo Char Gunai village on the Teesta riverbed in Kawnia upazila of Rangpur.
“Our families used to take shelters during floods in neighboring areas, flood control embankments, highlands or other facilities every year in the pasts,” said Rahela adding that the displacements caused huge losses to their assets essential for survival.
With CLP assistance, they first raised plinths to build new houses, then got training on various awareness building issues, health, hygiene, sanitation, assistance and inputs to begin various income generation activities for earning to live better.
Later, they started cultivating vegetables, animal husbandry, poultry, tree plantation, setting up of compost heaps on raised homesteads and small businesses and establishing tube wells and sanitary latrines to get rid of water borne diseases.
“Now, we can stay at homes safely with our assets and cattle heads during floods on raised plinths and provide shelters to other flood-hit char people of neighbouring areas,” said Kulsum.
Chairman of Rangpur-based research organisation ‘Northbengal Institute of Development Studies’ Dr Syed Samsuzzaman said floods and river erosion affected life and livelihoods of char people, their agriculture, environment and even existence on char areas in past.
“Successful implementation of the comprehensive CLP programme helped char families in building their capacities to cope with changing climatic conditions and achieving self- reliance through income generations for better survival,” he said.