The Munda community resides near Shakbaria River. Seema Rani Munda, a member of the community, lives in North Bedkashi Union of Koira Upazila in Khulna near Sundarbans. Every year when floods, cyclones and tidal waves occur, as a result of climate change, it takes with it everything that Seema owns: her home, means of earning, hopes for the future. Amongst the natural disasters that has hit her so far, Seema Rani Munda says that Cyclone Aila in 2009 and Cyclone Amphan in 2020 left her the most devastated.
Seema Rani still remembers the day before Cyclone ‘Amphan’ hit. Seema recalls, “The road we were about to take to go to the shelter had collapsed. The road leading to our house had collapsed. Houses, dishes, and clothes were swept away by the cyclone. I witnessed the gradual destruction of the home we had built. But there was no time for remorse as I had to save my life and so I headed to the shelter by boat. We did not have enough clothes or food to survive, and then LoGIC Project came to our side. The project’s assistance gradually helped me regain my composure.”
The Local Government Initiative on Climate Change (LoGIC) project is a joint initiative supported by UNDP Bangladesh, UNCDF, the European Union, Sweden and Denmark. It aims to build the capacity of affected communities, local government institutions and civil society organizations in climate change adaptation in selected climate-vulnerable areas.
When Seema Rani was selected as a beneficiary for the LoGIC project along with other women, she was trained in vegetable, fish and crab farming along with many others. After the completion of training, thirty thousand taka (BDT) was given to each participant. Seema invested this amount in crab farming and made a profit within a few months.
“I opened a shop in the local market with the profit I made. I started selling various fresh vegetables in the shop. Daily, I earned about five hundred taka (BDT) and was able to invest it on my children’s education”, Seema expressed with relief.
Seema’s daughter is in college and her son is in primary school.
Seema further adds, “In our Munda community, none of the girls get the opportunity to complete their education due to financial constraints. In the Munda community, only a handful of girls, including my daughter, go to college.”
Education and language barrier is a significant reason behind the slow progress in the Munda society. Seema Munda dreams that her daughter will one day go to university. For this reason, after passing HSC, the girl will be sent to Dhaka for university admission coaching. “No matter how hard it is, I will ensure my daughter’s education. I was not able to complete mine due to lack of money. LoGIC project stood by my side and guided me. Now I want to take my daughter further. I dream that my daughter will finish her studies and work in Dhaka.”
When Seema Rani joined Project LoGIC, Seema faced criticism from her community. Even her parents were hesitant of supporting her. She used to go to get training, go to the bank and talk about it. Seema Rani Munda, “While working with the LoGIC project, initially, we faced many obstacles from the society. But I was determined to stick with LoGIC regardless of the hurdles. If I had succumbed to the pressures of society and given up, I would not have received the benefits I have so far. The Munda society would also have been deprived.”
Today, Seema Rani is a source of pride in the Munda community. “Many girls come to me for advice, inspired by my journey. I support them and share my experiences because the LoGIC Project taught me that real success comes when you share it with everyone else,” she concludes.