Chronic poverty in the Southwest coastal belt of Bangladesh

Chronic poverty in the Southwest coastal belt of Bangladesh

Where the southwest coastal region of Bangladesh was once a prosperous agricultural hub, today it is an
area ravaged by salinity, natural disasters, poverty and an inability to cope with recurrent shocks. This paper presents the main findings of a survey made in collaboration with the local NGO Uttaran in  the southwest coastal belt of Bangladesh. The objective of the study was to capture the main challenges, impacts and effects of climate change on livelihoods in this region as well as identify levels of disaster resilience and existing coping strategies being utilised. What was found was a much more complex array of interlinking factors which together, present significant barriers to livelihood opportunities and sustainable development for communities, and the region as a whole.

The paper argues that establishing and enhancing livelihoods resilience, maintaining food security and fostering development are now the main priorities for the region.  One recommendation is to target small landowners and farmers in communities with an existing mix of shrimp and paddy farms to encourage a return to balanced agricultural activities such as rice farming and/or saline resistant varieties of vegetable and/or sweet water prawns/fishes. The introduction of crop diversification and short lifecycle crops would enhance resilience and the ability of farmers to recover quickly after disasters.

Activities would require strong local government  support and be closely linked with relevant  government departments Training  and education on the use of flood irrigation  techniques to reduce salinity levels to allow rice and  vegetable cultivation would be a priority focus.  Market acceptance analysis of different crop and rice  varieties should be undertaken as well as support for horizontal knowledge-sharing between farmers on saline-resistant crop varieties and appropriate variety  selection.

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