NOTE: This is a guest post from Tori Timms of The Environmental Justice Foundation (EJF).
Climate change amplifies the world’s social, economic, political and environmental problems. Its ‘multiplier effect’ is pushing some of the world’s poorest and most vulnerable people deeper into poverty. Millions already face a daily struggle, living in conditions where they are denied their most basic human rights.
Dilipur Kumar Mandor cultivates brinjals, tomatoes, radishes, rice, and betelnut and coconut trees. Although a small-scale farmer, Dilipur has always produced enough to feed his family with produce left over to sell — until recent years. However, over the last decade crop yields have declined and in some seasons whole crops have failed.
Like most farmers in Bangladesh, Dilipur works according to a traditional farming calendar made up of six seasons. Increasingly unpredictable weather means that long-established farming methods are failing them. He reports that, “Now we see warm weather during winter and cold weather during summer.” Lack of rain is making it harder than ever to produce adequate yields.
Increasing salinity is also a significant problem: Dilipur, his family, and more than a thousand other people living in the area rely on a single open water pond to meet all their fresh water needs, including the water needed to raise livestock. There used to be more fresh water sources, but others have been polluted or contaminated with salt.
The quantity of fish and vegetables that Dilipur’s family eat has declined dramatically. They very rarely consume meat as there is not enough water and food to keep cows, goats, ducks and hens. Overall household incomes in the region have declined. Once self-sufficient, the family now has to buy imported rice.
Poverty and food insecurity are so severe in Rampal thana that Dilipur believes that within two or three years people will no longer be able to live there. His family may have to join the many other communities and families that have had no choice but to abandon their homes and land because their lives and livelihoods are under extreme and unrelenting pressures. Families like Taslima’s.
Taslima and her family were unable to salvage any possessions or building materials from their house when it was destroyed by Cyclone Aila. With nowhere to go, they were forced to live on the little fishing boat that had been used to rescue them. The family lived off emergency food and water rations and anything else that they received through the generosity of their neighbours.
Photo courtesy of Environmental Justice Foundation.
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