“My father passed away when my brother and I were very young. My mother is speech impaired. Since my father’s death, my mother used to work in other people’s fields as day laborers to bring food to the table. Aside from being a day laborer, she resorted to many side-works such as sewing, domestic help in other people’s houses, etc. to make ends meet,” says 17-year-old Jayeda, daughter of speech impaired 44-year-old Dulia, residing in the climate-prone TaltoliUpazila of Barguna District in Bangladesh.
Over the years, Jayeda and her family’s hardships worsened with the rising climate calamities of the vulnerable coastal belt of Bangladesh. In the last two decades, Barguna District, a climate-prone area, has faced some of the harshest climate change consequences with a rise in heat waves, cyclones, storm surges, and salinity intrusion in water. “Cyclone Sidr swept away our homes and left us helpless in the face of climate change. Being homeless, we stayed at the local cyclone center for many days. After the cyclone, there was a sudden disease outbreak where my mother got severely sick,” adds Dulia’s daughter, Jayeda, one of the thousands of sufferers of climate change adversities in the Barguna District, whose normal livelihoods were ruined, and they were left homeless.
Coastal womenare often left behind in capacity-building, and education activities, so they stay ill-equipped to fight against natural disasters. Being a speech-impaired widow from the climate prone coastal areas, Dulia was always marginalized and vulnerablemore so to the adverse impacts of climate change.Hence, people with disability like Dulia were the hardest hit during climate calamities which trapped them into a vicious cycle of poverty and vulnerability aggravated by climate change.
To break this cycle and mobilize people with disability like Dulia through a group venture, the LoGIC project is promoting local-led climate-adaptive livelihoods by providing a Community Resilience Fund (CRF). LoGIC enables disabled marginalized climate vulnerable women to be assimilated into the mainstream. Moreover, disable people are provided with an opportunity to compensate for their shortcomings with the other group member’s assistance and fellowship. Local Government Initiative on Climate Change (LoGIC) project is a joint initiative led by the Local Government Division (LGD) of the Ministry of Local Government, Rural Development, and Cooperatives, supported by the United Nations Capital Development Fund (UNCDF), United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), Sweden and European Union (EU).
A survey undertaken by the LoGIC project profiled the most climate-vulnerable and marginalized women, particularly widows, single-headed households, disabled, and indigenous people in Barguna District, where Dulia and other members got enlisted. The women were divided into smaller groups where each member received a CRF of USD 340 (approximately BDT 29,000) as direct support to undertake climate adaptive livelihoods with immediate benefits for their income.
LoGIC supported these groups through every step of the implementation process, starting from planning, financing, climate-adaptive business model formulation, and land leasing for cultivation. Working with local government authorities, the project also provided training on climate adaptive cultivation, creating access to financial institutions, establishing market linkages, and more.
Dulia had become a part of a group of 24 women who received training on climate adaptive fish cultivation and was introduced to fish cultivation techniques that could survive the harsh climatic conditions of Barguna District. Through CRF-funded climate adaptive fish cultivation, the group made a profit of BDT 707,520 from fish cultivation. Each member made an individual profit of BDT 29,480. This was a big step for Dulia, particularly because she was now a part of the bigger community from being sidelined all her life due to her disability. She was not alone anymore.
Prior to the LoGIC project’s support, Dulia had no idea about climate adaptive livelihood techniques. In contrast, now she had savings from her cultivation. Like Dulia, the group members used their extra savings to meet their family’s food and other daily needs. Moreover, after gathering enough savings, Dulia bought two baby goats and sold them a year later at a higher price. Soon after her first profit, the unprecedented COVID-19 crisis undertook- with this profit from selling goats and fish cultivation Dulia survived the entire pandemic since there was no other earning source during that time.
However, climate change adversities continued to haunt Dulia’s life. She could not even overcome the hardships of a pandemic when extreme flash floods again hit Barguna District in 2021, where Dulia’s house was entirely wrecked again. She severely injured her leg in her futile attempt to protect the remnants of her only shelter. The fear of a crippled existence didn’t allow any hesitation in getting crippled while trying to save her shelter. She got immediate treatment and medication from BargunaSadar Hospital but was referred to Dhaka Medical for further treatment. During this double-edged crisis in her life, Dulia used her savings from climate-adaptive livelihoods. The extra money she saved from the adaptive livelihood activities supported her to cover medical costs and repair her house after the floods.
Even after such catastrophes, Dulia had some more savings from her profitable business. She did not give up, and this time she was not alone- she had a strong support system as her group members constantly encouraged and supported her to undertake a profitable climate adaptive livelihood opportunity. Together with the group, she did adaptive duck rearing and was introduced to new adaptation techniques and poultry management through training by LoGIC. Within a few months, they could sell the eggs from the ducks at the market at a profitable rate.
These business models have enabled Dulia to keep fighting the adversities of climate change. These coastal women look forward to the upcoming seasonal cultivations and mung bean harvests. This produce will not only earn them a profit but also provide nutrition for their families.
“From the support of this project, my mother has gained not just financial independence but also a sustainable way of life, breaking away from climate calamities. I support my mother in maintaining liaisons with retailers who come to buy eggs from duck rearing. My brother accompanies her to the market to sell farmed cultivations. Moreover, we as youths of our community have learned about new adaptation techniques, climate adaptive business modeling, market linkages, and financial engagements. We have learned how to break out of the climate change calamities,” says Jayeda.
Just like Jayeda, LoGIC promotes youth participation by developing their skills on climate adaptation and resilience, disseminating knowledge and awareness, creating networks within the community. Thereby enabling the next generation to contribute to achieving the SGDs goals, in line with LDC graduation in Bangladesh.