For Sima Sana, a resident of Tildanga, sea-level rise, increased cyclones, and intensifying salinity was taking many of the traditional livelihood options off her plate.
“High tides and cyclones are bringing 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 normal high tide and cyclones,” said Sima.
Not only for Sima, the other residents of the most climate-vulnerable villages located in Khulna district are also facing uncertain futures as the salinity is expected to rise over the next two decades further.
“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.
The additional stress from thunderstorms, flooding, and Covid-19 impacts are further intensifying the vulnerability of the residents in the southwest coastal areas, one of the climate change hotspots in South Asia. Especially the poor people with less land and are most vulnerable to such uncertainty, increasing their displacement potentials. There are minimal options to pursue livelihoods or generate income.
Livelihood diversification is the only 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.
UNDP’s LoGIC project is working to do just that by supporting the most climate-vulnerable women to build resilience against climate change by enabling them to undertake local-led climate adaptative livelihoods by providing a Community Resilience Fund (CRF).
The joint initiative with the Government of Bangladesh, EU, Sweden, and UNCDF brings new technologies, helps women to build capacity, and provides start-up support with risk financing to build confidence on the economic and environmental return of the latest technology for adaptation. While working with the lowest tier of local government institutions, LoGIC ensures leased land, agricultural aid, business development plan, and relevant training.
Through CRF 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, she had a good yield despite the same salinity she experienced in previous years.
“We nurtured the sunflowers on the field every day, and in two months, our hard work paid off, and we were successfully able to harvest saline tolerant sunflower seeds,” she said with a smile.
“We ground these seeds to make oil. We have put aside some of the oil for our year-round consumption and sold the rest at a profit.”
“The revenue has enabled us to expand the sunflower cultivation to a bigger scale and has given us a stable income source, says Sima.
She is now working with fellow women to develop a year-round business plan to ensure optimal use of their funds received from LoGIC. LoGIC’s unique model has gained confidence of women like Sima by ensuring financial inclusion, market linkages and enabled them to further scale up their adaptive livelihood portfolio.