Climate-Resilient Livelihoods: What we achieved in 2022
Women who were once among the poorest in structurally disadvantaged areas of Bangladesh and adjacent regions in India are now making a strong statement. Through initial startup support, innovative farming methods, and robust mutual assistance, they are not only able to sustain their families independently but also contribute to strengthening community bonds in their villages.
From the small earnings she made as a day laborer, Sajeda Begum virtually had nothing left to spare. She was accustomed to this; the 32-year-old had always worked in agriculture, using her income solely to feed her family. Her husband was seriously ill for many years and passed away eleven years ago, shortly after the birth of their second child. Sajeda was left not only socially isolated but also solely responsible for supporting herself, her son Sajib, and her daughter Chayna. This life of hardship and responsibility is a common experience for many women in Bangladesh, either because they are widowed or because their husbands have abandoned them or work far away in big cities. On particularly difficult days, mothers often have to make sacrifices so their children can eat, Sajeda Begum explains.
Eventually, Sajeda was accepted into NETZ’s “Climate-Resilient Livelihoods” initiative and became part of a self-help group in her village. No longer isolated in her struggle against hunger, she joined other women in establishing sustainable self-help structures. How does this work? Participants in the project initially receive startup support tailored to their needs, which can range from equipment for a small tailor shop or tea room to livestock like chickens for an egg farm—or, in Sajeda’s case, a calf to raise and sell for profit. These new ventures often turn into the women’s primary source of income. They also cultivate their own vegetable gardens and maintain food supplies. These village groups hold regular meetings to collect and distribute local, high-yield seeds. Collectively, they share knowledge that helps them become self-reliant and independent. In this way, they support each other during hard times and establish networks for others in need of assistance. This has become particularly relevant with the steady rise in food prices since 2022.
Sajeda Begum used to bring her newborn child to the fields where she worked as a day laborer. Those days are now behind her. Her son Sajib is in school, and through her cow-breeding and vegetable gardening activities, Sajeda Begum has not only achieved a stable income but has also turned her house back into a home.
What we have planned for 2023
The NETZ partners are enrolling more than 2,000 new women in the projects. Together, they develop strategies to deal with the regional impacts of climate change and to consolidate the livelihoods they have created themselves during the projects.
The work in the coastal region of Bangladesh is further established and systematically strengthened.