Climate-Resilient Livelihoods: What we achieved in 2021
Poor supply situation, hardly any educational prospects, few job opportunities: Northern Bangladesh is considered poor and without opportunities. But it is precisely here that women show how they are using start-up initiatives to find their way out of poverty and dependency - through agricultural work, vegetable gardens, animal husbandry and creative businesses.
Merina Khatun from the village of Kaharole knows the lack of perspective. The family lived in poverty, having nothing except her husband's occasional work as a day laborer and a makeshift house held together. Merina Khatun cared for the children and had to find food herself whenever her husband could not find work during the day.
Together with other women in her village, she founded a self-help group in the NETZ focus area "A lifetime of rice". To help her get started, she was given a cow, among other things, half of whose milk she sold and half of which she used for the family. With the income from the sale of the milk, she started a vegetable garden, sold this income as well and earned more money. This, in turn, she invested in a poultry farm - today Merina's pride and joy. She owns more than a dozen animals and has a regular income from raising and selling them. Merina follows the important principles of "Enough Rice for a Lifetime": she secures her earnings from various sources of income. She has acquired knowledge about cultivation and rearing through training. And the self-help group in the village has been an important support and exchange group from the very beginning.
The consequences of the Corona pandemic are still being felt widely in the region - and are exacerbating the structural weakness. Many people hire themselves out as day laborers - on the days when there is work. Those who fall ill or fail to find work in agriculture from day to day have no income at all. This puts entire families in immediate need of food.
This dynamic has shown time and again how important it is to have self-help structures that those affected can fall back on in an emergency. It is not a matter of short-term support, but of long-term self-sufficiency. Families of the project participants build up savings and food stocks to be able to survive times of crisis. And: they consolidate a network of help and support that can pick them up immediately in an emergency. Together, they accumulate knowledge that makes them independent and enforce the payment of social benefits to which they are entitled.
As is the case with Merina Khatun: She runs her goose farm on her own. She knows what feed she needs, when the cattle have to be vaccinated and what price she can charge on the market. This self-reliance makes a big difference. She can now buy clothes for her children and pay their school fees. She has transformed her meager dwelling into a small farmhouse where the family can live well. Merina Khatun is an inspiration to the whole village.
What we plan to do in 2022
The NETZ partners would like to include 9,720 new women in the projects. They will be given special support to create agricultural jobs and livelihoods that can withstand the effects of climate change.
Work in southern Bangladesh is to be systematically strengthened. There, where salinization of agricultural soils is increasingly destroying people's livelihoods.