In the Sundarbans, the mangrove forests have been destroyed and degraded by unsustainable harvesting, as well as by numerous coastal development activities. The present river embankments have failed to prevent cyclones or tidal surges, resulting in the flooding of agricultural lands and human habitats with saline water. It will take two to three years to make these inundated agricultural lands cultivable again.Salinity intrusion in groundwater is also common in the southern part of the Sundarbans region. The river often changes its course due to various reasons, causing people to leave their homes and farming lands. Additionally, the emergence of new islands between different waterways has disrupted the transportation system.
The project aims to strengthen and sustain the river embankment system of Purba Shridharpur village by planting Mangrove, Vetiver Grass, and Dragon Fruits in a three-layer protection system. This project will also provide local Self-Help Group members with livelihood opportunities. By engaging SHG members in the task of riverbank protection, the project contributes towards social empowerment. The project aligns with Sustainable Development Goals 1 (No Poverty), 2 (Zero Hunger), 13 (Climate Action), and 15 (Life on Land).
A community of SHG women is deeply involved in collecting saplings, managing nurseries, and planting Mangrove, Vetiver grass, and Dragon fruits in the region. The SHG women take day-to-day responsibility for maintaining the planted saplings/trees, as well as for nursery work and replanting. MUKTI provides food support to the SHG women engaged in plant maintenance, at a cost of ₹ 2250. This helps them take better care of the planted seedlings/plants. A dedicated team consisting of Project Managers, Program Coordinators, and Field Supervisors monitors the project on the ground.
The project has provided regular food support to 250 women who are involved in the initiative. The team has strengthened a 7 km stretch of the river embankment and planted over 170,000 Mangrove trees, 145,000 Vetiver Grass, and 19,000 Dragon fruit plants till date. The project has also created 400 jobs at the ground level.
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