A women’s SHG Wins Plan India Impact Awards
A women’s SHG – Mangroves are widely recognised to shield our coastlines from natural dangers including hurricanes, tsunamis, and coastal erosion. Mangroves’ amount of protection, however, is still up for debate. After the East Asian tsunami of 2004, numerous mangrove restoration initiatives were started.
The idea behind this was to replace any lost mangroves to lower risk in the future.
Saleha Bibi in West Bengal, India, has started working on herself in the same way. To guarantee that it offers her community safety and security, she is guarding over 20 hectares of mangrove area.
A women’s SHG – Saleha Bibi & her story
Saleha Bibi is from Pathorpratima Thana in West Bengal’s Durbachati Gram Panchayat. She is a domestic worker from a low-income family. Her husband Mujibur Rahman, who spends almost the entire year fishing at sea, lives with her and their son, a driver.
Saleha began volunteering with a nearby organisation in her spare time to keep herself busy. She assists with numerous initiatives, awareness campaigns, and other things. Saleha is the first to pitch in when relief efforts need to be made.
After the catastrophic typhoon of 2021, floodwaters in the neighbourhood destroyed several homes and forced the majority of the people to leave their possessions behind. Many people were left homeless as a result.
The river’s floodwaters had destroyed everything in their path, and people were fleeing for their lives.
The Aila Cyclone a few years ago had caused a similar catastrophe, which the island’s elders had seen. The Sundarbans were upset following that happened. They asserted that at a time when people and environment were only beginning to heal from the disaster. Before the next storm hit, they had hardly recovered from the losses of the previous one.
Mangroves come to our aid
Saleha started looking into the mangroves around her neighbourhood after speculating that they may keep them alive. She was curious as to why their population was declining.
She learned that people have been greedy and are randomly stealing from mangroves to satisfy their greed after interacting with officials and locals. But now was the time to safeguard the mangroves so that they could safeguard them in turn.
15 kilometres and a river later, Saleha Bibi arrived at her village’s Block Development Office (BDO). She requested assistance in acquiring the mangroves so that she could safeguard them. BDO concurred after learning about the SHG’s worries.
They donated mangroves across a 20 hectare area of land to Saleha Bibi and “Panitar Pally Unnayan Samiti.” The two were overjoyed and started formulating a defence strategy right away. Saleha made it her goal to defend her village by taking all necessary measures.
Tigers, crocodiles, plants with venomous thorns on embankments, and vast tracts of unoccupied land along the river banks all frequent these mangroves.
The SHG has protected the mangroves to this day with unmatched bravery and strength. No matter where they are, the members guard them from theft, cows, and goats.
Saleha Bibi and her women’s self-care group, “Panitar pally Unnayan Samiti,” won the Best Women’s Self-Help Group award at the Plan India Impact Awards 2022 for their initiative and admirable community contribution (PIIA 2022).
Although the results of restoration work might not be apparent right away, Saleha thinks the award will spur them on to do better. They will be able to increase their operations, safeguard additional natural areas, and keep people safe.