Lipi lives in Khulna, a southern district of Bangladesh frequently affected by flooding and cyclones. Over a million households were destroyed when Cyclone Sidr hit the region in 2007.
Lipi’s house was completely flattened. She slept under the open sky with her infant without regular food or water for days.
The struggle for food
“I was married when I was just a child”, says Lipi. “With a big family, we could hardly eat three regular meals a day, and my father thought I would be better off married”
Lipi’s fate remained unchanged even after her marriage. She and her husband struggled to find regular work in an area with more supply of labor than demand. Irregular income intensified food insecurity. To top it off, Lipi gave birth to her first child during this period of immense struggle.
A devastating cyclone
When Cyclone Sidr hit, everything slipped further downhill.
Lipi feared for her newborn’s health. Without any regular work or productive assets, the family searched for any alternative livelihood. But soil salinity made it difficult to cultivate rice and vegetables in the area, the main sources of income and nutrition in most diets.
A unique solution
The UPG programme began the ‘rice plus fish’ enterprise with the aim to provide an alternative livelihood to the people living in cyclone affected regions. The technique allows participants to harvest rice and fish on the same plot of land.
Lipi was selected as a participant in 2015 and received training on modern techniques of harvesting rice and raising fish along with other interventions of the programme.
She has used the profits of this enterprise to take out a lease on a shrimp enclosure where she now grows fresh vegetables and fish and has also purchased a rickshaw for her husband. Gradually, she was able to build a stronger house, buy livestock and put her children in school.
In a country where 450,000 children suffer from potentially deadly severe acute malnutrition, improving the income and diversifying the assets of people living in poverty can go a long way in ensuring the access to and consumption of nutritious food.
Now Lipi has a year long supply of rice from her own fields, fish from her pond and all the vegetables she grows beside it. She earns a living from selling the surplus of her assets, and now she never has to worry about where her next meal is coming from anymore.