Knowledge sharing at the heart of development
The Sunderbans Delta, West Bengal, India, are regularly devastated by cyclones and floods which pose tremendous hazards and risks to the lives and properties of the people living there because of the heavy saline water inflow that destroys their houses, livestock and farmlands. An ACTED project works with village assemblies to fill the gaps and meet the needs of communities towards identifying vulnerabilities and risks, implementing preparedness measures, school awareness programs, and planning and validating response plans.
The Disaster Risk Reduction (DRR) project targets an area which includes forest and saltwater swamps that form the lower part of the Ganges, Brahmaputra and Meghna delta. The entire delta has become an increasingly disaster prone area. In West Bengal, 50% of the population is considered to be living below the poverty line and the situation is even worse for people such as Uttam from Giripara town, a beneficiary of ACTED India’s DRR project in the area. He is involved as an agro-aqua-forestry program recipient and also as a member of one of the search and rescue task force teams organised by the project.
50% of the local population below the poverty line.
The current methods of mono-cropping of paddy and fresh water fish farming are rendered near impossible as a result of flood and subsequent salt contamination of the soil, while livestock die in the event of a disaster or suffer from lack of fodder in the aftermath. ACTED is now promoting the planting of mangrove to protect the embankment and use of salt tolerant plant species in their cultivation.
The project team, together with local government, selected Uttam to receive training and implement techniques of agro-aqua-forestry and to become a model farmer for the community.
His hardships didn’t end here; as he put it, he faced many challenges when he started to implement innovative ways to grow crops, utilising techniques learned during the project trainings. Now, not only is his farm benefiting his household, but also the community he lives in. “Some people of the community were making fun of my farming methods, but the same people now are coming to me to learn the best farming”.
“Yes, the project is good for me and I am earning money from selling agricultural products.” Uttam produces organic fertilizer, organic compost, seeds, organic pesticide, and more than six different kinds of vegetables, which he shares with the people that are starting to implement this model of farming.
As the project nears its end in the following months, Uttam remains active and has challenged himself to continue training the community around him with the knowledge and practices he has gained from the project.