Indeed, Bangladesh is one of the most densely populated areas in the world, with over 160 million people. The land is flat and nearly at sea-level. Just the previous week, a typhoon ransacked the coastal areas, leaving over 30 people dead. Sajjadul explains the damages were limited and that the strength of the typhoon winds was ‘only’ 90 km/hour! His attitude indicates the frequency of these extreme climate events. He like other compatriots are have to face these problems regularly. We will not see these damages during this mission, as we are travelling West to the Indian border Division of Rajshahi.
In both Upazilas the team visits, the main climate issue is the increasing droughts. This new phenomena comes at a high cost because agriculture is the main industry in this area. The country’s rain-fed agriculture depends on seasonal rainfalls however, many parts of the country such as Rajshahi are already suffering from repeated and unexpected droughts and further rising temperatures are expected. Water management is therefore of the utmost priority for the local governments here.
With LoCAL, the Fisheries office of the Upazila of Mohonpur also went to the ‘last mile’ to help a number of Internally displaced climate communities to better rehabilitate to their new living conditions, with the re-excavation of large ponds that can be used to fish farm and generate income. The ponds also raise hopes of the villagers because thanks to the improved water retention in the surrounding land plots, they can grow vegetables to generate further income.
Due to the high population density, there are strong pressures on land for agriculture. For the communities around the pond, every piece of land is being used to grow vegetables. The quality of the soil itself has become harder to manage due to extensive farming and other climate events.
Mrs Parvin started a fermi-composting activity in a shed funded by the project. Soon her neighbours started to take interest and launched their own fermi-composting at home. The LoCAL project is now thinking to expand the pilot project with a large shed that could be shared by the various women in the community. Not only the scheme helps them to make a small business by selling high quality organise fertiliser but at the same time, the activity has helped to clean up the place: not a single cow-dung is wasted.
The success of Mrs Parvin was not lost on the other women - some have already adopted the technology and others are asking for support from the project, asking for example to build sheds that can be shared among themselves.
The alternatives piloted by the LoCAL facility include biodigesters, fermi-composting are helping people to better manage waste. Sajjdul explains that one of the key advantages over the traditional way of burning cow-dung is the lack of nasty fumes that can have an impact on the health of the people in the house. The small schemes piloted with LoCAL helped the communities to test innovative approaches to improving the management of their soil while making better use of organic waste, such as with the vermicomposting activity.