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India: As climate change grows more intense, women in battered coastal Odisha step up

Source(s):  Bloomberg LP
The Quint

By Disha Shetty


“Overall, cyclonic activity is increasing in the north Indian ocean, which includes the Arabian sea and the Bay of Bengal,” said Asmita Deo, scientist at the Indian Institute of Tropical Meteorology, Pune who looked at data spanning three decades to come to the conclusion in her study published in May 2015. “Cyclones are occurring earlier; their frequency and intensity is also increasing, which indicates an impact of climate change.” Land around Bay of Bengal also faces frequent droughts, increased salinity in water and crop land as well as sea and river erosion, according to a 2013 report from the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), the world’s largest environmental network. The report included data from 20 Odisha villages.

The report also found that climate change was disproportionately affecting households headed by women, with 80 percent of them getting fewer work opportunities and 70 percent reporting increased hardship and longer working hours during and after disasters, when jobs were scarce. 


Biswal and Rout [local villagers] are among dozens of women raising their voices through government-recognised Self Help Groups (SHGs), which have, so far, formed federations in 11 gram panchayats (rural councils) across Bhadrak, with help from the NGO WaterAid India. Shortage of water, the need for more hand pumps and issues of sanitation in the aftermath of a natural disaster--which the men are not interested in, they said--are some of the issues they discuss.



Odisha ranks as one of the top five deadliest states for pregnant women in India, with a maternal mortality ratio nearly 27 percent higher than India’s national average, according to data from NITI Ayog, the government think tank. Half of Odisha’s women aged 15-49 are anaemic, and nearly one in every four has a low body mass index. The state’s child sex ratio—the sex ratio at birth for children born in the last five years--is declining, according to government data from the National Family and Health Survey (NFHS), 2015-16.


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  • Publication date 09 Feb 2019

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