Oxfam works with the people of the Jamuna River in Bangladesh. They are at risk from the increasing amount of ice, which is melting from the Himalayas. They are used to coping with frequent flooding, with losing their homes as their sandbanks are submerged, rebuilding their lives over and over again.
But the weather has become increasingly unpredictable in recent years, threatening their security, their livelihoods, and even their lives. “20 or 30 years ago we could understand from the water temperature and the wind direction if the flood was going to come. Before it was mostly monsoon flooding in July or August, but now the rains are continuing into October,” says Laila Begum who’s been forced to move 25 times in her lifetime. “That causes problems as it’s when we should be planting our crops… There are more storms, more thunder and lightning.”
Laila and her family have developed survival strategies and they are helped by a local organisation supported by Oxfam. This group helps the sandbank dwellers to cope with frequent floods by raising up homesteads, teaching skills and public health, providing emergency stores, rescue boats, and mobile phones and radios for early warning. This is important work, but if climate change predictions are fulfilled it will need to be replicated on a massive scale for millions more.
Laila says, `If MY land comes up (out of the water) I will go back to it. Maybe we will be able to move next year or the year after. If this (place) erodes we will move to another and begin again. We are not afraid; we are used to it, moving. We have developed survival strategies… but (it) definitely increases our suffering.
Oxfam wants this suffering to stop and for people like Laila to have a safe home, and a secure living, without threat from unpredictable weather. And we know the G8 can help achieve that by being part of a strong global deal that will reduce carbon emissions and provide funding so poor countries, like Bangladesh, can deal with the affects of climate change.
Climate Change has been put high on the agenda at this year’s G8 Summit. We are asking leaders to take `Action Now! and tackle the problem of climate change for the poor people who are hit first and worst by it. And you can help by taking this action to demand the G8 make it happen.