Earth Day: Celebrating women farmers’ resilience to climate change

  • Date: 22/04/2024
  • Author: Jo-Ann Ward

Climate change is having a major impact on daily life in Bangladesh. For small farmers in particular the impacts of climate change are devastating on their livelihoods and daily life. But women farmers in Bangladesh are coming together to work with nature to fight climate change and create sustainable livelihoods. This Earth Day we are celebrating the unbelievable resilience of farmers who are using agroecology to work with nature to create long-term solutions to the climate crisis.

Agriculture has always been a cornerstone of Bangladesh’s economy, driven by the active participation and substantial contributions of women, who make up 70% of its workforce. And so are hit hardest by climate change.

In 2022 and 2023 we were proud to support ActionAid Bangladesh on a project titled ‘Women-led Solutions to Food Insecurity and Livelihood in the Face of Climate Change.’ The project aimed to enhance the knowledge of women farmers and encourage climate-resilient agricultural practices.

The impact of ActionAid Bangladesh’s work with women farmers is immense. Here are some of their stories.

Mahfuza

Mahfuza lives in a small village in southern Bangladesh, she was stricken by poverty and the adverse effects of climate change. As a result, her attempt to cultivate crops often failed – be it in the backyard or in an agricultural field.

Following taking part in the project she said: “In the first courtyard meeting, they taught us about climate change. That was the first time I understood why my crops would not grow properly. I learnt about climate-resilient agricultural techniques. They trained us on seed-bed preparation, seed and crop selection, irrigation techniques etc. With the techniques I learnt there, I began to cultivate various seasonal vegetables in the courtyard. The yield was so good that I could sell some even after consumption.

Gulshan

In the early days of marriage, two square meals seemed like a luxury to Gulshan. Her husband tried providing for the family, but situations were not in favour. For years, crops were destroyed by floods and sometimes there was no produce due to drought from where they hailed. But today, Gulshan is a winner of two prestigious awards for her contribution to the agriculture sector. She is building a better future for her family, as well as for her community.

Gulshan told us, “People pay more for the vegetables I produce. They say these are bigger and taste better. Usage of vermicompost and bio pesticides have made a major impact in the yield. I know they are safe, chemical free and good for our health. These are cost efficient too. Also, since I started the bagging method of cultivation my crops are safe during floods. My neighbours were surprised to see that. I later taught them the method.”

Malancha

At the beginning of 2023, ActionAid Bangladesh came to Malancha’s village to train local women on farming techniques. Malancha enrolled herself and learned about different environment friendly farming techniques. She is now an expert of seed selection, seed bed preparation, seed production, bio fertilizer and pesticide production and their application.

After the training, she and 30 other women formed a women’s group. Recently, she was elected president,

She told us: “Alone, I am weak and vulnerable, I believe in the power and strength of unity. I know, I have been able to come this far only because I moved in a group.” 

This Earth Day please share their stories.

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