Climate change impact is now a reality in the coastal districts of Odisha. It isn’t a far-fetched reality as we know that climate change will happen in the next 50 years or so. It is already affecting people and the most devastating example is from Odisha where farmers are increasingly shifting livelihoods or migrating to other parts of the country. This is because of the changing weather pattern that their main source of occupation like fishing, paddy cultivation, forest foraging are drying up pushing them towards poverty.

In recent years, climate change has increased rainfall variability around the Bay of Bengal region. There appear to be more and more intense cyclones, Business Standard reported.

In such a scenario, women have been found to be most affected by climate change because of various patriarchal reasons. This is also because of the fact that while men can migrate to other places to find a livelihood, women have to stay behind in dried-up zones in order to fulfill their domestic duties and as well as care providers. Unequal treatment and status in the society have only added to their miseries.

A local NGO, Regional Centre for Development Cooperation conducted a research to find out the impact of climate change and found that structural inequality between women and men—further deepened by wealth status, ethnicity, age and location—meaning that poor women, children, the elderly and disabled were the worst affected by the climate crisis and natural disasters, UN Environment reported.

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Post the research, the NGO decided to involve women and the poorest groups in the areas in community-based management and decision-making processes. They formed local committees with an equal number of local women and men. Then they established a task force for better disaster management practices consisting of an equal number of women and men trained in early warning, search and rescue, first aid, water and sanitation, and shelter management.

There is now increasing recognition that sustainable and integrated marine and coastal ecosystem management requires gender-sensitive and gender-responsive planning, implementation, monitoring and evaluation at project, policy and grassroots level

It also helped set up organic homestead gardens in the village, providing local seeds and helping in the production of organic manure and bio-pesticides. “floating gardens”—a micro-farm made by using a bamboo framework and a culture bed with local materials were also made. These were designed with women-headed and landless households in mind, to allow them to grow food and generate income during the lean period.

“There is now increasing recognition that sustainable and integrated marine and coastal ecosystem management requires gender-sensitive and gender-responsive planning, implementation, monitoring and evaluation at project, policy and grassroots level,” says UN Environment Coastal and Marine Ecosystems expert Shuang Zhu.

They also brought in fuel-efficient cooking stoves and training on assessing climate change risks, inclusive and gender-responsive community consultations, and empowerment of women and other marginalised people in the community.

Adolescent girls were found to be immediately interested in these training programs.

Picture credit: Goonj

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