Year after year, the harsh reality of climate change and its seasonal shifts has unleashed devastating floods upon the village in Bangladesh where Mamata lives with her husband and two children.
Recently heavy rainfall and the overflow of the mighty Brahmaputra River led to their home being engulfed by water. Mamata's husband became jobless, and the family found themselves in a dire situation. For over 15 days, they struggled to put food on the table, unable to seek shelter elsewhere due to the standing water. The floodwaters not only robbed them of their livelihoods but also deprived their children of an education as they were unable to get to school.
Moving to unsafe higher ground
Once they were able to evacuate, moving to a higher place away from the floods came with its own difficulties. Mamata says,“If we go to high places, there is no toilet. Women have problems with urination, and they do not get pads or services when they are menstruating.”
Many women also fear for their safety, and may be at increased risk of sexual violence:
“There are many men, we have to live in the open place; those places are not safe. When women have gone to sleep, the other man's eyes turn to her.”
How CARE is supporting flood-prone communities in Bangladesh
In response to the plight faced by families like Mamata's, CARE Bangladesh implemented a project with partner SKS Foundation to strengthen household and community structures so that families would have safe access to shelter during natural disasters. The project aimed to support 1,746 people in the most flood-prone areas across Gaibandha, Jamalpur, Kurigram, Lalmonirhat, and Sunamganj districts in Bangladesh.
Following consultation with the community, Mamata's house was chosen for plinth raising, a crucial measure to protect her home from future flooding. Mamata also was given the opportunity to attend training on Climate Smart Agriculture Systems at the CARE-established Farmer Field Business School in her community.
Through the training, Mamata has learned about sustainable farming techniques. She also learned that kitchen gardening and indoor plantation offer practical and accessible solutions to mitigate climate change and adapt to its effects. Growing fruits, vegetables, and herbs at home decreases reliance on commercially produced food, which often travels long distances before reaching her plate. This reduces the carbon footprint associated with the transportation and storage of food. Locally grown, organic products are also fresher and more nutritious.
Filled with determination, she has now begun her journey into homestead gardening and tree plantation, using her newfound knowledge to support her husband and family.
Mamata’s message to world leaders at COP28
As COP28 draws to a close, Mamata has a clear message for world leaders:
“We are not responsible for the damages caused by climate change. I want to say to the world leaders – take measures so that we can survive the losses that are happening.”