Bangladesh is a vulnerable country to climate change and suffers from a wide variety of its negative consequences. HYY’s development cooperation project “People-Led Climate Change Resiliency Program in Bangladesh” started in January. The project aims at improving rural Bangladeshi communities’ climate change resiliency by teaching communities to adapt and to protect themselves from climate change induced hazards. The project has started successfully and within the first half a year workshops, trainings and discussions have already taken place in the project area Rajshahi.
Text: Säde Karhu, Tania Afrin, Iris Lawson
Bangladesh is known as a natural disaster prone country to the rest of the world and one of the most vulnerable countries to the climate change due to its geographical location as it is located near to the Himalayas and the Bay of Bengal. The people of Bangladesh are already feeling the consequences of climate change in dramatic ways.
Concepts such as the climate change and conservation of biodiversity may seem luxurious and distant to people who spend their days struggling for their livelihoods. Today these issues have effects on the livelihoods of the rural Bangladeshi and some of them are at risk of losing their homes as a consequence of climate change. Climate change has intensified the frequency of natural disasters and risks like the rising sea level. Many people are forced to leave their homes, and climate change refugees are already a reality in Dhaka, the capital of Bangladesh.
However, hope is not lost as long as there are those willing to improve and strengthen their adaptation to climate change. The project participants are willing to help communities understand how the local people are dependant on natural resources and sustainable development. In order to take action the rural people need to understand the influence the climate change has on their lives. Addressing climate change on the rural people of Bangladesh is one of the purposes of the development cooperation project between The Student Union of the University of Helsinki (HYY) and the Bangladesh Resource Centre for Indigenous Knowledge (BARCIK), an NGO in Bangladesh.
As this project started in January, it has been facilitating local people from local farmers and fishers to other NGOs and local government authorities in addressing climate change and its impact in the project area Rajshahi. One of the objectives of this project is to include local people in the designing and planning phases which places them in the center of the problem solution.
It’s impossible to achieve success alone. To increase local people’s involvement into decision making, the project started with a three days long orientation and planning workshop. In the workshop the participants discussed different approaches to climate crisis through adaptation, mitigation and resilience strategies.
After the workshop, the staff members organized community meetings, consultations and household visits to understand how local communities deal with climate crisis and disaster related issues. Members of the local elected bodies and journalists also took part in these meetings.
Moreover uncultivated food plants have been identified and documented. Because of the meetings organized earlier there were many active people to gather rice crop. 2500 local saplings have been collected voluntarily and planned to plant on the side of a 5 km long road as planting trees plays an important role in climate change prevention.
One must not underestimate the importance of increasing local capacity. A major contribution of the project is training, capacity building and skill transfer since it is important that local people from the elders to the youth teach each other and share knowledge in the communities. Also youth meetings were organized to get joint ideas and suggestions to deal with disasters, risk reduction and to create awareness on climate resilience issues.
Two joint meetings with the youth and the village leaders were organized to understand the changing cropping pattern and the adverse diseases. One of the communities involved already listed and collected 48 different varieties of rice, pulses and vegetables which were grown in this ecological condition.
In addition BARCIK has organized different events, discussions and meetings related to the project themes for the locals for example “International Biological Diversity Day”. Overall many good initiatives have been done and many will come in the future to help our climate for future generation through this small initiative from HYY.
The Student Union of the University of Helsinki (HYY) and Unicafe will together organize Bangladesh lunch on 30th of November at all Unicafe restaurants, when Unicafe serves Bangladeshi food and by choosing the Bangladesh meal, you can support the project.
There will be Dal Borta lentil stew and Murgi Bruna broiler in the menu. The price of the lunch is normal student price (2,6 e). From each lunch Unicafe will donate 0,10 e for this project. This is a chance to do good by eating!
Besides the lunch on Bangladeshi day, HYY together with BAFFU (Bangladesh Academic Forum of Finnish Universities) will be also offering henna tattoos in the campuses of Kumpula, Center and Viikki during the day.