Bangladesh: sink or swim

Millions of people could be forced from low-lying Bangladesh Credits: Peter Risholm/Caritas Norway

Millions of people could be forced from low-lying Bangladesh
Credits: Peter Risholm/Caritas Norway

The people of Mothurapur village in Bangladesh’s vast Sundarnbans forest depend on the mangroves for their livelihoods and for food. The communities there are poor and isolated.

Children did not go to school, but instead worked in the forests collecting wood and honey. That was until Caritas Bangladesh built the Mothurapur Environment School in 2002. As well as providing a rounded education, the teachers included environment and climate change issues in the syllabus in addition to general curriculum. That’s why community people have named the school as ‘Environment School’.

From July 2008, Caritas raised up school floors, cemented floors, set up water-sealed latrines, strengthened its pillars, repaired roofs and fences and set up rainwater harvesting tank for drinking water. When cyclone Alia hit, the school was not affected by the tidal surge due to its renovations. A total of 19 families along with their children, livestock’s and assets had taken shelter in this school during Cyclone Aila on 25 May 2009.

“The school has saved us and our children from the devastating Aila, because there is no cyclone shelter nearby our village,” said a community leader. “The education has opened our eyes and showed us a way of learning, livelihood and development.”

And in Sora village, also in the shadow of the Sundarnbans, Caritas has supported community groups to grow timber on the embankments. The fast-growing wood not only protects the villagers from tidal surges, river erosion and cyclones, it provides them with a food, and also is a sink for Carbon Dioxide.

Caritas Internationalis

President: Cardinal Luis Antonio Gokim Tagle
Secretary General: Michel Roy

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