Sukhoranjan used to struggle to feed himself, with nothing but the irregular income he got from his work as a labourer to rely on.
The flood-prone fields he had access to weren't fit for farming, and as long as he lacked the knowledge about how to cope in an unstable environment, the future looked bleak.
Cyclone storms, tidal surges and flooding make the Gopalgonj and Barisal districts the most disaster-prone in Bangladesh. Every year these south-westerly areas are vulnerable to the worst of what nature can throw at them.
With so many of the population relying on agriculture, the impact on livelihoods can be dramatic. Lack of knowledge about alternative livelihoods means locals struggle to bounce back and often languish in poverty, buffeted by one natural disaster after another.
But since Tearfund partners, The Church of Bangladesh Social Development Project (CBSDP), began mobilising the local church, people are now more resilient and better prepared. And they're adapting to climate change.
Sukhoranjan is just one example of those who have been assisted.
The project taught him how to start and run a floating vegetable garden on the flood-prone fields, providing him with a sustainable, invaluable alternative source of income. After training from CBSDP, he was given seeds and materials to prepare the floating bed, using hyacinth and bamboo.
The vegetables Sukhoranjan now grows provide a source of income he previously didn’t have. Before, when he relied on being a labourer, the work was irregular and he often went hungry, and his self-esteem and health started to suffer.
Now, thanks to the local church, that cycle has been broken. Hunger has been replaced by food, despair by hope. And now a new cycle of life is starting, as Sukhoranjan is passing his knowledge on to his neighbours.
A little background ...
Tearfund works with seven partners in Bangladesh helping the most vulnerable get out of poverty.
Among them is LAMB which operates in the north-west and provides healthcare, including a 150 bed hospital, 28 community clinics and a large community health and development programme. LAMB is also running projects to reduce people’s exposure to earthquakes in the west and north-west.
We’re supporting Baptist Aid in a three year project to help ten flood-prone communities in Faridpur district to be better prepared.
Bangladesh Nazarene Mission (BNM) is running a project to reduce the vulnerability to disasters and climate change of approximately 89,000 coastal belt people living in 50 communities in Satkhira and Bagerhat districts. BNM is working through 40 local churches located in these areas.
BNM is also supporting the “Blue Barrel” project where containers of essential relief items are strategically stockpiled, ready for rapid distribution in the event of disaster.
Koinonia works primarily through local partner organisations and local churches and does a wide range of work, including micro-credit, health, education, gender, HIV Aids and relief programmes.
They are also constructing cyclone shelters, helping the continuing recovery of communities damaged by Cyclone Alia in 2009 and promoting renewable energy.