The Sundarbans are facing a dire threat due to climate change. PayBito during its “Brokering World Hunger Away” movement witnessed the devastating impact of climate change in the region. The delta islands that make up a significant part of the Sundarbans are rapidly disappearing, and experts warn that they may not exist after just a few years.
“The devastating impact of climate change in the Sundarbans cannot be overstated. Rising sea levels, frequent cyclones, and unpredictable weather patterns have destroyed homes, ruined farmland, and forced families to abandon their traditional livelihoods. Immediate action is required to support these communities.”
– Paybito Chief Raj Chowdhury
The cause of this vanishing act is a major shift in climate dynamics, which has led to rising sea levels, severe storms, and increased salinity in the water. The Sundarbans, which is home to a diverse range of flora and fauna, including the endangered Royal Bengal tiger, is at risk of losing its unique ecosystem forever.
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The Sundarban villagers are one of the many communities around the world that are facing the devastating effects of climate change. The region has experienced rising sea levels, frequent cyclones, and severe weather events that have forced thousands of people to leave their homes, abandon their professions, and adapt to rapidly changing circumstances. Let’s explore the impact of climate change on the Sundarban villagers.
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“Our house was washed away by the flood, and cyclone in 2019. It took away several trees and damaged our crops. My father is in Coimbatore for daily wage work, as the agricultural land is damaged by salt water. We live in extreme poverty, sometimes it is difficult to eat three meals a day.”
– Mina Sardar (Kumirmari village, Sundarbans)
Mina Sardar’s family has experienced a series of devastating events, that took away their trees and damaged their crops. The aftermath of the disaster has left them in a state of extreme poverty, with Mina’s father forced to travel to Coimbatore for daily wage work since their agricultural land has been damaged by saltwater. Their financial situation is so dire that they often struggle to find enough food to eat, let alone three meals a day. This illustrates the harsh reality many families face in vulnerable communities that are at the mercy of unpredictable natural disasters and climate change impacts.
“My friend, Bikash, and his mother were washed away by the flood. Whenever we get the news of an upcoming cyclone, I get nightmares. Cyclone destroys our houses, and our lands, and my parents are forced to rush to the cities in search of work. The inhabitants of the island are at risk, and if we don’t do anything now, we might sink with the island in the coming years.”
– Gourab Mondal (Gosaba village, Sundarbans)
Climate change is causing rising sea levels and more intense natural disasters, such as cyclones and floods, which are threatening the lives and livelihoods of the inhabitants of the Sundarbans. The destruction of homes and lands, along with the need to migrate in search of work, is causing significant socio-economic impacts on the local communities. If no action is taken to mitigate the effects of climate change, the Sundarbans and its people are at risk of sinking in the coming years.
“I have to give up my house, and agricultural land. The flood water has destroyed the soil, and I cannot afford to wait for six years to improve the island.”
– Satya Majhi (Sagar Island, Sundarbans)
The Sundarbans have already displaced tens of thousands of people from their homes, and every year it becomes increasingly challenging for the 160,000 individuals living in Sagar Island’s 43 villages to withstand the rising water levels. The Bay of Bengal is now more frequently impacted by cyclones and storms, exacerbating the problem.
Five years ago, the high tide broke through all the barriers on the eastern side of the island, destroying thousands of homes and making farmland unsuitable for crops due to high salinity. The tides have shaped the Sundarbans for centuries, causing islands to appear and disappear in a natural rhythm. However, in recent decades, the variations have become more extreme, and the erosion rate is now believed to be the highest in the world.
The locals have attempted to adapt to the changing conditions. Farmers have begun to grow salt-resistant strains of rice, while overfishing has resulted in smaller catches. The shrinking coastline also threatens the tradition of sun-drying fish on the beaches.
The Sundarbans, the world’s largest mangrove forest and a UNESCO World Heritage Site, is home to a unique ecosystem that supports a diverse array of flora and fauna, including the Royal Bengal Tiger, estuarine crocodiles, and a variety of migratory birds. However, this fragile ecosystem is increasingly at risk due to climate change. Rising sea levels increased frequency of extreme weather events, and changes in temperature and precipitation patterns are all threatening the delicate balance of the Sundarbans ecosystem.
The rising sea level has already led to saltwater intrusion into the freshwater habitats, affecting vegetation and freshwater-dependent wildlife. The Royal Bengal Tiger, which is already an endangered species, is facing an uncertain future due to the loss of habitat and increased human-wildlife conflict caused by the changing environment. Urgent action is needed to mitigate the impacts of climate change and protect the unique wildlife and biodiversity of the Sundarbans.
Empowering Sundarbans villagers is crucial in the fight against the devastating impacts of climate change. Paybito’s Brokering World Hunger Away movement has taken an active role in supporting these communities. The initiative provides resources to those affected by climate change, including food distribution, agricultural training, and livestock management. They are helping the women in the village with income generation by conducting stitching, painting, pottery, and junk jewelry workshops. The campaign is also conducting sessions with the affected farmers, on alternative income options during the time of the flood.