Bangladesh: Inclusive development and the victims of river erosion
By Shekhar Kanti Ray
"Agriculture is our main livelihood. However earnings from agriculture last for six months. We get waterlogged for almost five months (June-October) due to flood in rainy season but in case of flash flood water logging starts from April and May. During this period our people become jobless. They have to largely depend on money lenders for their survival. Some people go outside of the area for earning." [says Raja Miah (38), a victim of river erosion in the char, an area in the northern district of Bangladesh.]
However they also told that the situation has little improved in last ten years with the introduction of boro paddy cultivation in the months of February to April. Now they can harvest paddy before the early or flash flood. They also cultivate maize, jute, peanut which also brings them good profit. But they complain that their efforts are not well supported by the concerned authorities and institutions. Abdul Jalil (75), an elderly person of this locality explained how difficult it was to manage loans for Boro cultivation.
"Boro cultivation requires a good investment at various stages ranging from tilling of land to harvesting of crops. But we are not eligible for bank loan since we are landless and we are likely to change our residence frequently due to river erosion. We don't have much NGO activities here. We have to depend on moneylenders for loans at high interest rate. A major part of our profit from Boro and other cultivations goes to money lenders' pockets."
Mr. Zillur Rahman Khandker, executive director of Uddyog Foundation, a local NGO which has been engaged in development programs and micro-credit operation in this locality explained the challenges and prospects of the char people, "We need more accountable and functional role from our concerned government departments as well as development partners for the development of these people.
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