Sea level rise and increased frequency of cyclones is intensifying salinity in the southwest coastal areas which is one of the climate hotspots in South Asia. The situation is also becoming more volatile due to additional stress from thunderstorms, flooding, and Covid-19 impacts.
Tildanga – one of the climate vulnerable rural villages located in Khulna district of Bangladesh- is highly at risk of increased salinity due to climate change. The livelihood of people is challenged with increased salinity, which is predicted to rise further over the next two decades. The residents are in uncertainty about their future and the poor people who have less land are most vulnerable to such uncertainty, which increases their displacement potentials. There are very limited options to pursue livelihoods or generate income.
“High tides and cyclones are bringing high salinity to our lands and destroying our crop production every year. We lost our standing rice and vegetable crops due to tidal flood, intrusion of saline water during regular high tide and cyclones. We are extremely fearful about taking any risks in agriculture, but we have no option other than agriculture. We are left with no or minimal income and struggle to make ends meet,” says Sima Sana, from Tildanga Union located in Khulna district in Bangladesh.
Just like Sima, for majority of families residing in climate change hotspots, livelihood diversification, despite climate variabilities and extremes – is key to resilience. However, most families lack the knowledge, technology, capacity, risk financing and additional money to try and test new alternatives to expand their options, which are salinity resilient.
Local Government Initiative on Climate Change, (LoGIC) project, led by the Local Government Division of the Ministry of Local Government Rural Development and Cooperatives, is a joint initiative of the Government of Bangladesh, EU, Sweden, UNDP, UNCDF. LoGIC is supporting the most climate vulnerable women in selected climate prone areas to build resilience against climate change impacts by enabling them to undertake local-led climate adaptation livelihoods by providing a Community Resilience Fund (CRF). CRF brings new technologies, helps women to build their capacity to apply the new technology and provides start-up support with risk financing to build confidence on the economic and environmental return of the new technology for adaptation.
Through this CRF direct support, Sima invested in saline resistant sunflower cultivation, which is more climate adaptive than traditional crops, which she wants to avoid. After a successful cultivation, Sima had a good yield despite the same salinity she experienced in previous years. While working with the lowest tier of local government institutions, LoGIC ensures leased land, agricultural aid, business development plan and relevant training for Sima so that she can gain confidence on climate adaptive livelihood and gradually switch from vulnerable livelihood portfolio to resilient livelihood portfolio.
“We nurtured the sunflowers on the field every day and within two months our hard work paid off and we were successfully able to harvest saline tolerant sunflower seeds. We ground these seeds and used it for oil. We have put aside some of the oil for our year-round consumption and sold the rest at the market for a profit. This profit has enabled us to expand the sunflower cultivation to a bigger scale and have given us a stable income source”, says Sima Sana, a resident of Tildanga Union, Khulna district in Bangladesh.
Sima is working with fellow women to develop a year-round business plan to ensure optimal use of their fund received from LoGIC. The unique LoGIC model will ensure financial inclusion for these women and enable them to support scaling up their adaptive livelihood portfolio.