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If You Think Climate Change Is A Myth, Just Look At What It’s Doing To Bangladesh

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Bangladesh has made significant progress in the context of its food security. The country has achieved self-sufficiency in its rice production; however, it is still vulnerable to the loss of its food production, caused by natural calamities. This improved production of rice has helped Bangladesh increase its Global Food Security Index from 34.7 in 2012 to 36.8 in 2016, but it is still in the vulnerable category.

Bangladesh is especially dependent on rice, a food source that causes an unbalanced nutritional intake if it is too dominant in a diet. However, the production of rice has helped in reducing the prevalence of undernourishment. It has managed to improve the country’s average dietary energy supply too.

food security

These achievements as regards to food security in Bangladesh have been somewhat satisfactory. However, natural calamities like floods, cyclones, and droughts have made the records unstable. This year, the challenge has been intensified by the influx of an estimated 604,000 forcibly displaced Rohingyas from the Rakhine state of Myanmar.

The recent threats to food security are largely a result of the damage caused by two successive floods: the flash flood during April and the monsoon flood since late June. It was estimated that farmers lost 2 million tons of rice this year because of the floods.

Just three months into the 2017-18 financial year, the government and private traders imported over a million tons of rice, an eight-fold rise already from last fiscal’s import.

Rice import has increased significantly. There are macroeconomic pressures. Such a huge influx of Rohingyas in a short span of time, it is really admirable that Bangladesh is tackling this humanitarian crisis,” said Dr Sue Lautze, FAO country representative in Bangladesh.

The most evident threat to food security is the recent price volatility in the rice market. Apart from the production loss of mainly Boro during the floods, the incompetence of the responsible authorities in handling the initial uncertainties also made the food grains market unstable. Similarly, the opportunistic rice millers; information asymmetry regarding the export of rice by the Indian government; the government’s lack of vigilance; and phased reduction of import duties on rice have fuelled the upheaval in the rice market.

As a result, the lack of availability of food grains at a reasonable price has started afflicting households below the poverty line. Even the marginally non-poor, food-secure households are in the poverty trap with no access to food.

The current food shortage and price hike crisis will persist beyond November when farmers will start harvesting Aman paddy. However, on the question of Rohingyas, a lot depends on the international community’s assistance and food support.

During critical situations like this, the inflation in food prices cannot be ruled out. However, the government has taken market-based procurement policies. It has been able to attain only one-fifth of the targeted procurement for Boro.

food security
What is encouraging is that Bangladesh’s ranking has gone two notches up in this year’s global hunger index, the International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI) said in a report.

Bangladesh has ranked 88 out of 119 countries on the global hunger index. However, Bangladesh is ahead of its neighbours India and Pakistan. Bangladesh stood at 90 positions among 118 countries in last year’s ranking.

According to the report, among other South Asian countries, India ranked 100, Pakistan 106, Nepal 72, SriLanka, 84, and Afghanistan 107.

Between the early 1990s and 2007, Bangladesh drastically cut the number of its malnourished people from an astounding 36.1% to 16.4%. According to this year’s global hunger index, some 15.1% of the Bangladeshi population still faces hunger.

Bangladesh is in a vulnerable position, as a flood-prone country, and it is an alarming prospect that climate change is making this worse. In 2017, three episodes of severe flash floods affected large areas of the country, particularly the northern districts. The floods affected the livelihoods of at least 8 million people.

The country sits at the head of the Bay of Bengal, across the largest river delta on Earth. Nearly one-quarter of Bangladesh is less than seven feet above sea level; two-thirds of the country is less than 15 feet above sea level. Sea surface temperatures in the shallow Bay of Bengal have significantly increased, which, scientists believe, has caused Bangladesh to suffer some of the fastest recorded sea level rises in the world.

According to the Bangladesh government’s 2009 Climate Change Strategy and Action Plan, “in an ‘average’ year, approximately one-quarter of the country is inundated.

Every four to five years, “there is a severe flood that may cover over 60% of the country.

A three-foot rise in sea level would submerge almost 20% of the entire country and displace more than 30 million people. Some scientists project a five-to-six-foot rise by 2100, which would displace perhaps 50 million people.

These changes are happening to the people of Bangladesh, but are not caused by them. As a country, Bangladesh emits only 0.3% of the emissions producing climate change.

A version of this article was previously published here.

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An ambassador and trained facilitator under Eco Femme (a social enterprise working towards menstrual health in south India), Sanjina is also an active member of the MHM Collective- India and Menstrual Health Alliance- India. She has conducted Menstrual Health sessions in multiple government schools adopted by Rotary District 3240 as part of their WinS project in rural Bengal. She has also delivered training of trainers on SRHR, gender, sexuality and Menstruation for Tomorrow’s Foundation, Vikramshila Education Resource Society, Nirdhan trust and Micro Finance, Tollygunj Women In Need, Paint It Red in Kolkata.

Now as an MH Fellow with YKA, she’s expanding her impressive scope of work further by launching a campaign to facilitate the process of ensuring better menstrual health and SRH services for women residing in correctional homes in West Bengal. The campaign will entail an independent study to take stalk of the present conditions of MHM in correctional homes across the state and use its findings to build public support and political will to take the necessary action.

Saurabh has been associated with YKA as a user and has consistently been writing on the issue MHM and its intersectionality with other issues in the society. Now as an MHM Fellow with YKA, he’s launched the Right to Period campaign, which aims to ensure proper execution of MHM guidelines in Delhi’s schools.

The long-term aim of the campaign is to develop an open culture where menstruation is not treated as a taboo. The campaign also seeks to hold the schools accountable for their responsibilities as an important component in the implementation of MHM policies by making adequate sanitation infrastructure and knowledge of MHM available in school premises.

Read more about his campaign.

Harshita is a psychologist and works to support people with mental health issues, particularly adolescents who are survivors of violence. Associated with the Azadi Foundation in UP, Harshita became an MHM Fellow with YKA, with the aim of promoting better menstrual health.

Her campaign #MeriMarzi aims to promote menstrual health and wellness, hygiene and facilities for female sex workers in UP. She says, “Knowledge about natural body processes is a very basic human right. And for individuals whose occupation is providing sexual services, it becomes even more important.”

Meri Marzi aims to ensure sensitised, non-discriminatory health workers for the needs of female sex workers in the Suraksha Clinics under the UPSACS (Uttar Pradesh State AIDS Control Society) program by creating more dialogues and garnering public support for the cause of sex workers’ menstrual rights. The campaign will also ensure interventions with sex workers to clear misconceptions around overall hygiene management to ensure that results flow both ways.

Read more about her campaign.

MH Fellow Sabna comes with significant experience working with a range of development issues. A co-founder of Project Sakhi Saheli, which aims to combat period poverty and break menstrual taboos, Sabna has, in the past, worked on the issue of menstruation in urban slums of Delhi with women and adolescent girls. She and her team also released MenstraBook, with menstrastories and organised Menstra Tlk in the Delhi School of Social Work to create more conversations on menstruation.

With YKA MHM Fellow Vineet, Sabna launched Menstratalk, a campaign that aims to put an end to period poverty and smash menstrual taboos in society. As a start, the campaign aims to begin conversations on menstrual health with five hundred adolescents and youth in Delhi through offline platforms, and through this community mobilise support to create Period Friendly Institutions out of educational institutes in the city.

Read more about her campaign. 

A student from Delhi School of Social work, Vineet is a part of Project Sakhi Saheli, an initiative by the students of Delhi school of Social Work to create awareness on Menstrual Health and combat Period Poverty. Along with MHM Action Fellow Sabna, Vineet launched Menstratalk, a campaign that aims to put an end to period poverty and smash menstrual taboos in society.

As a start, the campaign aims to begin conversations on menstrual health with five hundred adolescents and youth in Delhi through offline platforms, and through this community mobilise support to create Period Friendly Institutions out of educational institutes in the city.

Find out more about the campaign here.

A native of Bhagalpur district – Bihar, Shalini Jha believes in equal rights for all genders and wants to work for a gender-equal and just society. In the past she’s had a year-long association as a community leader with Haiyya: Organise for Action’s Health Over Stigma campaign. She’s pursuing a Master’s in Literature with Ambedkar University, Delhi and as an MHM Fellow with YKA, recently launched ‘Project अल्हड़ (Alharh)’.

She says, “Bihar is ranked the lowest in India’s SDG Index 2019 for India. Hygienic and comfortable menstruation is a basic human right and sustainable development cannot be ensured if menstruators are deprived of their basic rights.” Project अल्हड़ (Alharh) aims to create a robust sensitised community in Bhagalpur to collectively spread awareness, break the taboo, debunk myths and initiate fearless conversations around menstruation. The campaign aims to reach at least 6000 adolescent girls from government and private schools in Baghalpur district in 2020.

Read more about the campaign here.

A psychologist and co-founder of a mental health NGO called Customize Cognition, Ritika forayed into the space of menstrual health and hygiene, sexual and reproductive healthcare and rights and gender equality as an MHM Fellow with YKA. She says, “The experience of working on MHM/SRHR and gender equality has been an enriching and eye-opening experience. I have learned what’s beneath the surface of the issue, be it awareness, lack of resources or disregard for trans men, who also menstruate.”

The Transmen-ses campaign aims to tackle the issue of silence and disregard for trans men’s menstruation needs, by mobilising gender sensitive health professionals and gender neutral restrooms in Lucknow.

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A Computer Science engineer by education, Nitisha started her career in the corporate sector, before realising she wanted to work in the development and social justice space. Since then, she has worked with Teach For India and Care India and is from the founding batch of Indian School of Development Management (ISDM), a one of its kind organisation creating leaders for the development sector through its experiential learning post graduate program.

As a Youth Ki Awaaz Menstrual Health Fellow, Nitisha has started Let’s Talk Period, a campaign to mobilise young people to switch to sustainable period products. She says, “80 lakh women in Delhi use non-biodegradable sanitary products, generate 3000 tonnes of menstrual waste, that takes 500-800 years to decompose; which in turn contributes to the health issues of all menstruators, increased burden of waste management on the city and harmful living environment for all citizens.

Let’s Talk Period aims to change this by

Find out more about her campaign here.

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A former Assistant Secretary with the Ministry of Women and Child Development in West Bengal for three months, Lakshmi Bhavya has been championing the cause of menstrual hygiene in her district. By associating herself with the Lalana Campaign, a holistic menstrual hygiene awareness campaign which is conducted by the Anahat NGO, Lakshmi has been slowly breaking taboos when it comes to periods and menstrual hygiene.

A Gender Rights Activist working with the tribal and marginalized communities in india, Srilekha is a PhD scholar working on understanding body and sexuality among tribal girls, to fill the gaps in research around indigenous women and their stories. Srilekha has worked extensively at the grassroots level with community based organisations, through several advocacy initiatives around Gender, Mental Health, Menstrual Hygiene and Sexual and Reproductive Health Rights (SRHR) for the indigenous in Jharkhand, over the last 6 years.

Srilekha has also contributed to sustainable livelihood projects and legal aid programs for survivors of sex trafficking. She has been conducting research based programs on maternal health, mental health, gender based violence, sex and sexuality. Her interest lies in conducting workshops for young people on life skills, feminism, gender and sexuality, trauma, resilience and interpersonal relationships.

A Guwahati-based college student pursuing her Masters in Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Bidisha started the #BleedwithDignity campaign on the technology platform, demanding that the Government of Assam install
biodegradable sanitary pad vending machines in all government schools across the state. Her petition on has already gathered support from over 90000 people and continues to grow.

Bidisha was selected in’s flagship program ‘She Creates Change’ having run successful online advocacy
campaigns, which were widely recognised. Through the #BleedwithDignity campaign; she organised and celebrated World Menstrual Hygiene Day, 2019 in Guwahati, Assam by hosting a wall mural by collaborating with local organisations. The initiative was widely covered by national and local media, and the mural was later inaugurated by the event’s chief guest Commissioner of Guwahati Municipal Corporation (GMC) Debeswar Malakar, IAS.

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