The Bay of Bengal region has seen 26 of 35 of the world’s deadliest cyclones. However, the city of Kolkata and large parts of Bengal are often spared the worst of the terrible storms because of the 'Sundarbans', a sentinel that guards the outpost of the intemperate sea
, an area that once consisted entirely of dense mangrove forest
, but is now inhabited by over 3 million people who eke out a meager agricultural existence in the deltaic-islands, experiencing terrible catastrophe with tragic regularity.
One of these 3 million people is Pranabesh Maiti
. 11 years ago, he saw cyclone Aila ravage his island, blowing away tin roofs like sheets of paper, and destroying mud houses like sand-castles in a beach. The brackish water breached the embankments and flooding into fields and ponds rendering them barren for years to come, turning thousands of people would turn into economic refugees. He founded the Sundarban Green Environment Association (SGEA)
, a grass-roots organization that worked tirelessly year after year to alleviate the hardships of the villagers, through plantation drives, awareness campaigns and educational programmes.
When cyclone Amphan struck on May 20th 2020, Pranabesh had been working tirelessly to make sure, that migrants returning from COVID affected regions had access to sanitation equipment and was providing essential rations to those affected most terribly economically by the lockdown. His own house has broken down, thousands of trees have been decimated, the saline water has once again breached the embankments and inundated their lands, rendering them unproductive for years to come.
In what has turned out to be a convergence of catastrophes, cyclone Amphan and the COVID-19 pandemic have really crippled the lives and livelihoods of the islanders in Sundarbans- neither can they rely on produce from their own farmlands, nor migrate to cities in search of migrant labor jobs.
Ignoring their personal tragedy, Pranabesh Maity and his team at SGEA continue their efforts in the community.
We are running this campaign to help SGEA get the resources to achieve the following:
• Provide Immediate Help to individuals who have lost their home and livelihoods due to the cyclone and are in dire need of rations, medicines, health supplies and basic amenities, to assist in the rebuilding of broken houses.
• Resume Plantation of the Mangroves in order to act as a line of defense for the islanders and use the activity as a means of generating livelihoods for affected families.
• Invest in the Long-Term Restoration of Livelihoods in a sustainable manner.• Find Waste Management Measures in the wake of collapsed sanitation systems, clean up and sanitize the decaying ponds that villages depend on for water sources.
• Continue to build a strong community level Ecological Awareness in the area.