A series of community workshops during the last six months in the Kapasia Upazila, 130km north-east of Dhaka, culminated in a national symposium last week. More than 150 community members and local government officials of Kapasia Upazila gathered to discuss the environmental changes identified through a series workshops lead by IUCN Bangladesh (IUNCB).
Using pens and paper, workshop participants illustrated maps of their local area to record and compare the location of natural resources such as forests, canals, rivers, rice and vegetable fields, from 20 years ago to the present-day distribution. Participants also produced additional maps to indicate their preferred strategies to cope with the changing conditions.
It is the first time that IUCNB has embarked on a regional mapping exercise in this area. Working directly with village members and accessing local knowledge of changes in the environment has revealed impacts on agriculture and fisheries and the present-day challenges for those dependent on the land for their livelihood.
IUCN and the United Nations University partnered to deliver the project in the Gazipur District. The maps from the nine wards within the Kapasia Upazila, were collated and the final map was presented at the symposium by the Project Manager, Md. Ahsanul Wahed from IUCN Bangladesh.
The final map will be located at the office of the local Union Parishad and it will be used as a tool for planning and managing resources, biodiversity conservation and disaster management.
At the symposium the Kapasia Union Parishad Chairman M.A. Ohab Khan Khoka reflected on the IUCN project and spoke of his memories of the previous condition of the local environment. He highlighted the changes observed in the area, such as irregularities in rainfall and an increased number of droughts. Mr Ohab emphasized the need for a united approach to overcome the adverse situation many community members are now facing due to the changing weather patterns and subsequent impacts on crops and fish production.
Many attendees agreed and recognized the importance to act quickly to mitigate the impacts of climate change on their local environment and offered suggestions including clearing drains/ canals to provide effective crop irrigation, increase the number of fish sanctuaries and work to safeguard traditional knowledge and practices to manage the environment and natural resources in a sustainable manner Md. Motaher Hossain, Upazilla Chairman, Saroz kumar Nath UNO, Professor Ruhul Amin, Upazilla Vice Chairman also participated the meeting and each shared tier views about the impact of climate change in the area, discussed Government initiatives and assured their help in future.
Dr. Niaz Ahmed Khan, Country Representative IUCNB, acknowledged the collective work of the community and local government members, bringing together knowledge and enthusiasm to provide solutions to the issues facing al levels of the community. Dr Khan closed the symposium by expressing his gratitude to all the attendees and the participants of the workshops during the past six months.