Empowering Local Women in Coastal Areas - Bangladesh
Women in Bangladeshi communities at risk from climate change are organizing themselves into
resource centers to share information on how to adapt.
“Coping With Climate Risks by Empowering Local Women in Coastal Areas” is involving
women in developing environmental solutions based on traditional practices, building female-led
resilience to the impacts of climate change already being felt.
- 4 women’s resource centers established; local communities replicating 4 more
- 20 marginalized women involved in each resource center
- 40,500 community members total in target group
Alipura and Banshbaria unions in southwestern Bangladesh are bounded by the Tetulia and Sutabaria rivers at
the confluence of the Bay of Bengal. In these remote, wet, biodiverse regions, climate change impacts are
reducing crop yields and placing households at risk of food scarcity. For example, recent cyclones severely
damaged crops, decreased fish stocks, and compromised freshwater sources. With their close proximity to
water bodies, villages and farmland in the region are at risk from rising sea levels, saltwater intrusion,
floods, droughts, and further cyclones. Communities there are turning to government relief services, which
provide only short-term assistance.
Women in Bangladesh have typically been excluded from government processes, while local community power
structures tend to work against them. Although women in the project area are responsible for vital tasks
such as securing potable water, firewood, and food, they lack access to knowledge and support for these
activities. Since these responsibilities are almost entirely dependent on the natural environment, women
here are disproportionately affected by climate change impacts.
Coping With Climate Risks by Empowering Local Women in Coastal Areas has activated women to form groups and
resource centers oriented toward sharing information, skills, and resources on how to adapt to climate
change impacts. Teams of about 20 women in each village establish and operate seed banks, plant nurseries,
build vegetable gardens, rear livestock, and coordinate climate change awareness campaigns.
Helping the planet
Through the activity, community members have come to understand that their traditional agricultural
practices are no longer sustainable, and have adapted and diversified to new, more efficient farming
techniques. Implementation of more sustainable practices conserves freshwater and other natural resources
– especially important for the surrounding wetlands, which are rich in biological diversity and play
a vital role in controlling floods and tidal surges that could further damage the natural environment.
The women’s resource centers empower the previously marginalized population by giving them access to
and control of agricultural products, which increases their bargaining position and negotiating power. The
women are now able to access support structures, while sharing skills and resources. Women are thus leading
in the struggle to build more resilient, self-sufficient communities.
The seed reserves, plant nurseries, and social plantations have expanded economic opportunities, while such
efforts have also reduced risks and increased resilience at the village level.
The community-based associations are contributing to the food security and social protection pillars of the
Bangladesh national climate change plan, showing how the regional efforts can fit into larger structures.
That local communities are replicating the four women’s resource centers established by the project
also demonstrates its capacity for successful expansion.
Images owned by the activity partners, all rights reserved.