ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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Women in Indian Bengal Delta

Adapting to Climate Change–induced Migration

Vulnerable groups, especially women, bear the disproportionate burden of the impact of natural disasters induced by climate change. In the wake of the destruction wreaked by cyclone Aila in 2009, about half the men from the most affected blocks of the Indian Sundarbans, a region extremely vulnerable to climate change, migrated to other parts of the country in search of livelihood. The women were left alone to shoulder the entire burden of running the household and deal with the disastrous effects of the cyclone. The impact of male migration on the women of this region and the role of women’s self-help groups in helping them cope with the socio-economic distress caused by the cyclone are examined.

The Indian Bengal delta (IBD) is a part of the Ganga–Brahmaputra–Meghna (GBM) delta, the largest delta in the world. The IBD (Figure 1, p 64) is composed of 51 community development blocks (CDBs) spread across the districts of North 24 Parganas and South 24 Parganas in West Bengal. The IBD, located within the 5 metre contour line,1 is susceptible to high-intensity storm surges, cyclones, coastal flooding and erosion. Hence, it is considered to be one of the most vulnerable deltas in the world.

The region is already experiencing significant effects of climate change. A low-lying island called Lohachara has already undergone complete submergence (Hazra et al 2002: 8), while the island of Ghoramara is likely to meet a similar fate, considering that 80% of its area has disappeared under water over the last three decades (Ghosh et al 2014: 220). In the past 30 years, more than 30,000 people have become homeless or been displaced due to the adverse impacts of climate change on the Indian Sundarbans region, a part of the IBD. This region consists of 19 CDBs.

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Updated On : 3rd May, 2018

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