The river bank turned into a green land
When cyclone Aila hit the south of Bangladesh in 2007, the village of Pankhipara was inundated by saline water. Whole areas of the river bank were washed away and became infertile land. Today – thanks to a dedicated nature lover and Diakonia’s partner – the river bank is green and full of vegetation again.
The remote village of Pankhipara is next to the Sundarbans, the largest mangrove forest in the world. To get there, one has to cross the river Kholpetua by boat. During one of these crossings, the nature lover Zakir Hossain got the idea of social forestry.
“There are so many saline-tolerant seeds around us that grow in saline water. So why not plant those seeds on the sides of a sterile river bank”, he thought.
Forestation would benefit the locals
Forestation of the river bank would protect the river dam and make it firm and strong. By planting suitable and environmentally friendly local trees, people would get access to fuel, food and fruits and be able to fulfil their nutritional needs. Zakir Hossain contacted the local government and the local administration, but no one paid him any attention, since nobody knew who he was. But Zakir didn’t give up and contacted Diakonia’s partner organization BARCIK. With their suggestions and advice and the help of friends, Zakir, on a voluntarily basis, planted trees on the sandy land using tree seedlings collected from the Sunderbans.
Planted seeds together with friends
“I collected the seedlings and planted them in the sandy land with the objective of creating a nursery. Recently I collected 1200 seedlings from the nursery and distributed them among the community people for free. I also planted seedlings on the river embankment”.
Zakir Hossain has played a major role in implementing the forestation in the sandy land by the Kholpetua river. In his own homestead he has started a smallscale nursery where villagers come to collect seedlings.
Started a nursery for seedlings at home
His small courtyard has been turned into a garden with different vegetables, enough for the household’s consumption, with some left to sell at the local market. And inspired by Zakir, other villagers also have started homestead gardening.
Zakir Hossain is now well known as a nature lover because of his various environmental friendly initiatives. The local administration and local government are very happy to see the green belt alongside the river.
Story told by Mazharul Islam, programme officer in Bangladesh.