The hoar area occupies one-sixth of the total lands of Bangladesh. It lies in the northern-eastern side of the country comprising 7 districts and 30 upazillas. The area goes 10 to 15 feet under water in the rainy season. The haor dwellers several times face natural disasters leading them to starving almost all the time. Recently with the facilitation of BARCIK Somokal Surid of Dharmapasa sub-district under Sunamagonj arranged a youth climate caravan with the objective to share and perceive the problems of the haor dweller. People of all ages and classes participated in this endeavor. While crossing a 30 kilometers of water way they anchored in the homestead of Nilima Sarker who is well-known to others for her unique and innovative way of living in spite of adverse climatic variables.
Nilima Sarker built her house in a comparatively high land. She tries to make the best use of her only 58 decimal of lands. She farm diverse vegetable, spinaches and plant fruit & medicinal trees in an environment friendly manner to cope with the changed situation. She has been fighting with lots of adversities to uphold her existence in her small homestead land. The homestead of Nilima Sarker looks like an island being bounded by water in its all sides. Nilima thus has to fight with water to alarm her survival. During the rainy season only 10 decimal of homestead lands is free from inundation. This land is the only hope of her. Alike hers all lands of the Haor area remain under water for almost 7 months. Thus Nilima Sarker farm diverse vegetable & spinaches, rear livestock and plant diverse trees so that she could collect her daily needs from her farm. Nilima has an innovative thinking as well. Having no lands around, she tries to make a hanging garden using pots, cloths and other means to plant and farm trees and vegetable hanging the pots and other means on her house fence and wooden pillars. There are diverse vegetable, spinaches and trees in this â€˜hanging gardenâ€™. The participants of the youth climate caravan were surprised to see her innovation and learnt lots of things interacting with her!
Nilima Sarker farms both winter and summer vegetable and spinaches. Among her diverse crops include: wax gourd, ladies finger, tomato, beans, kidney beans, cucumber, pulse, chili and other green leafy vegetable. Besides, she farms eggplants, cauliflower, carrot, onion, garlic, ginger, potato, spices etc. She also plants both fruit and medicinal trees such mango, papaya, orange, jackfruit and guava etc. Of the medicinal plants and herbs seen in her small homestead farm include: Baramjal, Thankuni, Tulsi, Pathoshila, Durba, Kaliduri etc. She uses these medicinal plants to cure fever, pears paring, cough, constipation etc. The youth community participated in the climate expedition learn lots of thing from her. They learn how she adapts to the changed situation leading her not to be listed among the vulnerable. Farming and planting diverse crops and plants, Nilima Sarker has ensured the food security of her family. According to her, she buys nothing from the market except oil and salt.
In order to get nutrition and fertilizers for her crops and plants, Nilima Sarker real livestock, There are hens, ducks, goats and even cows in her small homestead. She though finds difficulties to graze the livestock but the diverse plants and wastes of vegetable and spinaches have been served as fodder for the livestock. According to her, she can collect meat, milk and egg from her livestock and even she can sell the surplus milk and eggs in the market that ensures additional cash for her. Nilima Sarker is aware about the biodiversity loss. Thus including farming and planting vegetable and trees, she also plant diverse flower trees in her homestead which in one hand has increased the beauty of her house and on the other hand, served to meet the cultural needs of her during religious festivals.
The participants in the youth climate caravan before visiting her homestead could hardly imagine that they could ever witness such a self sufficient household in this disaster prone area! Due to early flood, cyclones, drought and sands where some families are struggling to earn their livelihood and ensure food security for their families, Nilima Sarker, with small amount of lands, has ensured food security of her family. She has shown people the way to cope with the changed situation. She has also taught us all the lessons that where there is will there is way!