"We are like fish. Water is not new to us, but now it’s destroying our crops."
Floating Gardens in Bangladesh
When the water level of the Jamuna river in north western Bangladesh rises after heavy rain, the Begum family gets its feet wet. Literally. The water in their bamboo and straw hut reaches their ankles. They need to find dry quarters as soon as possible and do not have time to save the vegetables in their fields. Their situation is not unique in this densely-populated country.
Extreme Weather Events Destroy Livelihoods
Only a few metres above sea level and criss-crossed by a large amount of rivers, Bangladesh is particularly vulnerable to the effects of climate change. Hurricanes and torrential rain with flooding are increasing in frequency. They destroy homes, crops, water supply and sanitation, creating and exacerbating food shortages.
Food and nutrition security is under strain in the lower-lying rural regions in the northeast and on the river islands of the Jamuna, which are constantly changing their shape and position in the current. Here, Welthungerhilfe is supporting around 10,000 smallholder households in 50 villages.
The Solution: Vegetables That Can Float and Move
How can plants be protected from destruction by flooding? By making them float. Bamboo rods and water hyacinths are woven together to form a raft, and layers of mud and dirt then create fertile plots of land floating on the surface of the water. Spinach, okra, turmeric, potatoes and amaranth grow particularly well. Planting sacks are used as well. They require little surface area and allow plants such as paprika, eggplants, tomatoes, cucumbers, pumpkins and leafy vegetables to be moved if necessary. The innovations in their village are giving Mrs. Begum hope. “Until now, we were never able to afford two meals per day, the house is too small and there was no drinking water. Now, I am confident that everything will turn out well!”