A Journey of Courage and Hope: Building Climate Change Resilience in Bangladesh

Courage in the Face of Calamity: Building Climate Resilience in Bangladesh

May 30, 2023

                      By Kazi Rufaida Islam, Communications Officer, LoGIC Project, UNDP Bangladesh

Unyielding Spirit: Stories of Courage and Hope in the Face of Adversity

Bangladesh, which is one of the top 10 countries most impacted by natural disasters and climate change, is observing the resilience and tenacity of its citizens in the face of hardship. The Local Government Initiative on Climate Change (LoGIC), led by the Local Government Division and supported by UNDP and other development partners, works diligently to strengthen vulnerable communities, particularly to the poor and women. I recently had the honor of travelling to eight Upazilas and five districts in Bangladesh in 10 days to record the tales of those affected by climate change and the tremendous efforts being made to mitigate its effects along with with Prito Reza, a well-known photographer.

At Chilmari Upazila, our first stop, we met Sharitan Chachi, a strong woman who had lost her house to river erosion. Her son hurt during a terrible rainstorm twenty years ago, and it devastated her family. Sharitan Chachi nevertheless found comfort in her daughter-in-law's help, who got support from the project and built resilience to natural calamity.

We met many people on our voyage who, although living in distant places with scarce resources, showed amazing fortitude and unfailing friendliness. And also saw first-hand the terrible realities of living in an area covered with unending sand and dust in Roumari Upazila. One of the upazila facilitators, Nazrul Islam, noted that the villagers had developed "dustproof" characteristics as a result of their persevering difficulties, finding delight in simplicity and giving guests a warm welcome.

In Khulna, we met people whose lives had been changed as a result of the project's help. Seema Munda, a member of the indigenous minority group, served as an example of the advancement made possible by embracing empowerment and overcoming self-doubt. 

Nazlima Begum's Inspiring Journey of Resilience and Success. Photo: Prito Reza/UNDP Bangladesh

Nazlima Begum in Mongla, whose husband left the day labourer job just because to support his wife, who became an entrepreneur, with support from the project. They were absolutely outstanding in their ability to appreciate and support one another.

Anamika Khatun's Extraordinary Courage in the Aftermath of Cyclone Foni. Photo: Prito Reza/UNDP Bangladesh

Our journey continued to Barguna, where we encountered persistently foggy circumstances. Cyclone Foni survivor Anamika Khatun left an impression on us with her unbreakable spirit. Anamika was able to recover emotionally and physically after losing her home and suffering brain damage while attempting to save her sons, which is a testimonial to her extraordinary resolve.

Rising Above the Waters: Kalpana Rani's Unwavering Spirit amidst Flooding and Displacement. Photo: Prito Reza/UNDP Bangladesh

We had a chat with Kalpana Rani in Tahirpur, Sunamganj, whose life was characterised by frequent moves brought on by flash floods and river erosion. Her steadfast optimism and faith in the possibilities demonstrated the resilience of the human spirit. Like Kalpana, Rahela Begum showed the strength of willpower as she reared her four children by selling duck eggs.

We encountered countless people on this amazing journey who deepened our perspective of the challenges and victories of life. We had forgotten the inherent goodness and simplicity that unite us as a society in the midst of the hectic metropolitan life of Dhaka. The people we met motivated us to consider our own lives and made us aware of the numerous blessings we frequently take for granted. The persistent spirit and resiliency of those who reside in underdeveloped, climate-vulnerable areas provided a strong inspiration as we tackled the challenges brought on by climate change.

 The most climate-affected areas of Bangladesh that we visited left a lasting imprint on our emotions. The activities of UNDP, in association with the Government and other partners, have equipped communities with the means to face the effects of climate change. It is evidence of the Bangladeshi people's tenacity and resiliency, who continue to have lofty dreams and find strength in their shared identity. As we leave this life-changing encounter, we couldn't help but wonder: If these extraordinary people can overcome such great odds, what is really holding the rest of us back?

Discover the Remarkable Stories of Courage and Resilience: Join us on a Journey through Climate-Stricken Bangladesh