On the night of May 19, 2020, just three days before the Eid-ul-Fitr, most of the residents slept peacefully in their tiny mud houses resided in Ward No. 6, Hajrakhali, Sreeula, Ashashuni, Satkhira. Unfortunately, the night turned into an ordeal as the dawn approached, so did the super cyclone Amphan. Hitting the area, it destroyed the majority of households, trees, and other establishments, including the local mosque. Causing extreme waterlogging and destruction, residents were forced to evacuate and move to nearby cyclone centers and villages, losing and leaving everything behind for nine months.
“We actually lost everything that night. Our houses’ walls and roofs were broken; we had no safe water to drink, no food in hand, no sanitation facility, and no place to stay. We had to move out as the entire land surface went underwater. In previous years, we could at least stay behind and withstand the after-effects of the disasters. Residing on this land for generations, we are habitual to being affected by climate impacts, poverty, and unhealthy living conditions. But cyclone Amphan was different. It was faster and fierce than ever,” says Abdur Rajjak Molla (60).
Located in Bangladesh’s southwestern coastal belt, the village has long suffered from severe saline intrusion following a lack of safe drinking water. As Fatema Sultana Keya (18) describes, “As there is no other water source, we buy water from the remote Mariyala area for drinking and cooking purposes. There we spend BDT 15 for every pot of water (one-pot = 8-10 liters), BDT 10 for the boat fares of crossing the river, and BDT 20 for the van fare to carry the water pots to the boats. Every day a family of four consumes one pot of water here. Such purchases are pretty costly, and such travels are tiring for our entire community. Though, our water crisis was just about to be solved. With local government and NGOs’ help, water tanks were installed in our households to store rainwater. But the devastating hit ruined everything keeping the area underwater for so long; again, we are back to square one.” As the climate conditions change almost every year, so changes the inhabitants’ lives and livelihoods. Coastal floods/tidal surges, frequent cyclones cause severe waterlogging and damage the infrastructures to a greater extent. The community mostly depends on the river and Sundarban for their livelihood, through crab and shrimp farming or traveling to distant places to work as day laborers. As the casualties of climate change impacts increase, so do the insecurities for food, water, life, property, livelihood, and healthcare. To deal with the aftershock – they hardly have enough land resources or financial stability. Therefore, the wait for an improved life never ends for them, as they start over and over again – but never reach the shore of sustainable living and livelihood.