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STORIES | Voices from the Frontlines

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Voices from the Frontlines: Stories of Loss and Damage” is a compelling series that sheds light on the real-life experiences of communities grappling with the impacts of climate change. Through firsthand accounts, these narratives capture the challenges faced by individuals and families on the frontlines of environmental degradation.

Mongla, Bangladesh: A Model of Successful Adaptability Mongla, a vulnerable port town in Bangladesh, battles harsh impacts of climate change. Rising sea levels, floods, and cyclones threaten its fishing and farming communities. The residents, like fisherman Benzir Khan, face dwindling incomes and food insecurity due to declining fish stocks. Salinity intrusion leads to health issues, affecting women profoundly. Despite challenges, Mongla exhibits resilience. Mayor Sheikh Abdur Rahman spearheads initiatives, constructing flood-resistant infrastructure and implementing water treatment projects. He addresses water scarcity by creating new reservoirs and pipelines. During Cyclone Sitrang, the community’s collective efforts ensured safety. However, more support is needed for comprehensive climate adaptation. While challenges persist, Mongla exemplifies resilience, urging for continued efforts and support.

Cyclone Sitrang, the community’s collective efforts ensured safety. However, more support is needed for comprehensive climate adaptation

Surviving the Aftermath of Heavy Snowfall in Merak, Bhutan

In the remote Bhutanese village of Merak, Ms. Pema Wangmo, a single mother

and shopkeeper, exhibited exceptional resilience in the face of climate change challenges. The Brokpa community, semi-nomadic yak herders with a distinct culture, faced unprecedented heavy snowfall in 2022, damaging their greenhouses and disrupting daily life. Ms. Wangmo, along with her neighbors, repaired her greenhouse using wooden pillars and community support. Despite her efforts, she acknowledged the challenges of adapting to the changing climate and emphasized the need for improved infrastructure and communication networks in the area. Ms. Wangmo’s story highlights the community’s ability to innovate and adapt, relying on indigenous knowledge. The experience underscores the importance of prioritizing climate action and supporting vulnerable communities to ensure a sustainable future.

A women-led mangrove plantation to increase resilience against climate impacts

COSTA RICA

Costa Rica, known for its biodiversity and stunning landscapes, faces climate change challenges due to its size and location. In Manzanillo, a coastal area heavily reliant on mangroves, climate change brings risks like floods and dwindling fishing opportunities. Ana Cecilia, a local leader, started a mangrove nursery to combat these challenges. Despite limited resources, her project expanded with community involvement, creating the first covered nursery. During droughts, the nursery doubles as a community kitchen, providing meals for children. Ana Cecilia also aims to address water scarcity through locally led establishment of water tanks. Her initiatives not only prepare the community for climate impacts but empower women, promote tourism, and revive the fishing industry. Despite funding challenges, Ana Cecilia’s efforts demonstrate resilience and inspire others in the face of climate-induced loss and damage.

Climate Resilient House of Dreams, Ahemdabad India

INDIA

In Ahmedabad, a city highly vulnerable to climate change, stories like Dipika ben Malik’s highlight the challenges faced by its residents. Living in the Bhagwatinagar slum, she struggled with extreme heat waves and torrential rains due to climate change. Dipika, a determined mother of three, turned to sewing for a living. However, her workspace, her home, was not conducive to work during summers and monsoons. Fortunately, the Mahila Housing Trust (MHT) stepped in to help. Partnering with the Selco Foundation, they constructed a new climate-resilient house for Dipika. Solar panels were installed, reducing electricity bills. Asbestos sheets were replaced with PUF panel roofing, ensuring comfortable temperatures year-round. The house’s plinth was raised to prevent flooding, and additional space was added, improving living and working conditions. This intervention not only transformed Dipika’s life but also served as a model for climate resilience. By implementing similar solutions, vulnerable communities can adapt to the changing climate, ensuring sustainable livelihoods amidst the challenges posed by global warming.

 

Young women at the forefront of climate action in Karonga, Malawi

MALAWI

Karonga, a city in Malawi, faces extreme weather events, including floods and droughts, intensified by climate change. Residents, like Katie Chisambi, endure displacement, lack of clean water, and increased health risks during disasters. Women and girls, especially, suffer due to climate impacts. Patricia Chibaka, a local resident, established a community club with the Green Girls Platform, empowering women and girls to cope with climate change. They were trained in climate education, early warning systems, tree nursery management, and briquette making. The initiative allowed them to plant 10,000 trees in schools and sell seedlings, providing income. Patricia emphasized the need for women’s active engagement in climate action and green entrepreneurship. Recognizing and supporting local initiatives led by women is crucial in addressing climate-induced loss and damage, ensuring a more sustainable and resilient future for vulnerable communities.

 

Voice from the Maldives on vulnerability and resilience

MALDIVES

Kunburudhoo Island in the Maldives faces severe climate change impacts, including beach erosion and salinization of groundwater. Residents like Azeem, Ashraf, and Moosa have witnessed the island’s vulnerability, losing significant portions of their beach due to factors like coral bleaching and inadequate coastal protection. The construction of a harbor deepened the reef, altering the beach’s landscape. Salinization of groundwater forced reliance on bottled water, increasing financial burdens, and hampering traditional agriculture. Despite challenges, the community has initiated tree planting to combat erosion and preserve cultural practices. However, the small island size limits their efforts, and continued erosion threatens infrastructure like schools. Current climate change indicators often overlook the unique challenges faced by small island communities, leaving them unsupported. Recognizing these issues and prioritizing the needs of vulnerable communities is essential. International and national efforts must invest in research and long-term solutions to safeguard these communities from climate-induced loss and damage, ensuring they are not left behind in the fight against climate change.

Struggling livelihood from a herder in Rasuwa, Nepal

In Nepal’s Ammachodingmo Rural Municipality, Pasang Norchel Tamang, a traditional herder, faces increasing challenges due to climate change. For 15 years, he relied on herding yak, chauri, goats, and sheep for his family’s livelihood. However, since 2015, reduced rainfall and rising temperatures have depleted water sources and grass in the pastures, reducing cattle productivity and increasing expenses. The lack of rainfall has forced Pasang to move his herds to higher altitudes earlier than planned, but this strategy hasn’t prevented miscarriages and deaths among his livestock due to temperature increases. Pasang’s sons had to drop out of school as the family could no longer afford their education. The changing climate has not only impacted Pasang’s income but also affected his family’s social and cultural life. Despite his efforts to adapt, the measures taken are insufficient and unsustainable. The story illustrates the urgent need for action to support vulnerable communities like Pasang’s, who are entirely dependent on pastures for their livelihoods, as climate change continues to worsen their living conditions.

Conclusion

These stories emphasize the urgent call for action. Vulnerable communities demand global attention and resources to adapt to the worsening impacts of climate change. The “Voices from the Frontlines” series, jointly produced by the International Centre for Climate Change and Development (ICCCAD) and Global Resilience Partnership (GRP) amplifies their narratives, advocating for support, understanding, and collaborative solutions in the face of loss and damage.


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