Undoubtedly there are several activities related to demands raised on adaptation and mitigation measures for climate change in Bangladesh right now, which is admirable. There are a remarkable number of initiatives where people, especially youth, learn, understand and share aspects of the problems of climate change. But what is the proportion of the real-life sufferers participating in these initiatives? How much do they know? Do the victims lead or initiate the activities by themselves?

The impacts have differences based on geographical location and other catalysts. There is a vast difference between the climate impact characteristics between Barguna and Panchagar region. And the experience of people who are sitting outside and doing research based on various data has a different experience than the people there. These two spaces are different, one is isolated from another. The write-ups sitting outside are from an intellectual level, in most the part, lacking solidarity with people, connectivity or effective compassion. There is no doubt that campaigns and research have provided us with ample source information. But it is also true that such initiatives which lack connection with people have a professional aim more than any other goals dedicated to the betterment of the community, and the usefulness of this information, these shreds of evidence is only for a particular class of people, not so much for those who are suffering. And so, these works are not being able to create a stir in the way these was supposed to. And those who are the victims of this negative change are somehow suffering in silence and isolation.

There is also a kind of complexity with language in the discussion of climate change. If we look a little closer, we will see that most of the words, sentences and slogans used in the campaign are in English, which is not easily understandable for most of the affected communities. While conducting a study on the effects of climate change on women's sexual and reproductive health, I met a person who expressed her concern that the summer days have become remarkably warmer, the timing of rainfall has got changed, spending hours is not enough to get drinkable water from the faucet. There is knowledge about the events/disasters caused by climate change but they do not know what climate change is, or what it means by global warming or the lowering of groundwater levels. This knowledge is not accessible to them. When the whole world is in the continuous discussion of this very serious threat, the struggle is to grow crops, battle for water.

The lack of knowledge about climate change is a clear obstacle to building up effective adaptation strategies and sustainable livelihood. Standing right in front of this climate crisis, it is time to create a literature that is understandable to those who are the most affected by this change to ensure a holistic understanding of the ongoing climate and biodiversity crisis and its underlying causes and consequences.

The measures of awareness-raising and planning should be decentralised and designed based on region-focused issues. The participation of the people of that region must be ensured, and the campaigns and research must be initiated by the community. The priorities of the communities must be taken into account in any kind of planning. This writing, research, and all campaigns will add more meaningful value if they can make the voice of the distressed people a little stronger and for this, that voice should be created and prioritised first. Only then, the fundamental change is possible.

Umme Salma is a development worker. She can be reached at [email protected]

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