MORIGAON, India — Monuwara Begum grows more and more tired of moving every time water floods her home.
The 45-year-old farmer, who lives on an island in the mighty Brahmaputra River in the northeastern state of Assam, said she and her family suffered from more violent and erratic floods each year. .
They live in knee-deep water inside their small hut, sometimes for days. Cook, eat and sleep, even if the river water rises.
Then, when the water completely engulfs their house, “we leave everything and try to find higher ground or move to the nearest relief camp,” Begum said.
READ: Heavy rain causes floods, landslides in India’s Himalayan region, killing at least 48
Begum is one of around 240,000 residents of the state’s Morigaon district who depend on fishing and selling products like rice, jute and vegetables from their small farms on floating river islands, known locally as Chars.
In times of flooding, people on the Char Islands often row makeshift rafts with a few belongings, and sometimes livestock, to land. They install temporary housing equipped with mosquito nets.
With nowhere to stay permanently, they return when the water recedes, clean their homes and return to farming and fishing to make ends meet.
Begum said the river has always invaded Chars, but has become much more common in recent years.
“We are very poor people. We need help from the government to survive here since this is our only home. We have nowhere to go,” she said.
The state government of Assam has developed a climate action plan that contains guidance for dealing with weather events, but the federal government of India has not yet approved this plan. The state also does not have a separate budget to implement the plan.
Increased rainfall in the region due to climate change has made the Brahmaputra River – already known for its powerful and unpredictable flow – even more dangerous to live near or on one of the more than 2,000 island villages that lie in the middle of it.
India, and the state of Assam in particular, is considered one of the world’s most vulnerable regions to climate change due to more intense rainfall and flooding, according to a 2021 report by the Council of Energy, Environment and Water, a climate organization based in New Delhi. thinking group.
Begum and her family, along with other Char Island residents, are on the front lines of this climate-driven fury, year after year.
Record monsoon rains have killed more than 100 people this week in northern India.
Floods, landslides kill dozens as monsoon rains lash north and east India
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