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Bangladesh Overcomes Flooding with 'Floating Farms'

12/02/2014

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[00:00.00]
  • From VOA Learning English, this is the Agriculture Report.
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  • Rivers in northwestern Bangladesh rise sharply during the rainy season causing months of flooding on farms and villages.
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  • This hurts the rural poor who depend on agriculture to survive.
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  • When the floods cover their lands they cannot grow crops or raise animals.
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  • But local farmers may have found a way to deal with the seasonal weather.
  • [00:34.11]
  • Some are building small farms that float on top of the floodwaters.
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  • Hafiza Khatun is gathering eggs from the ducks that live in what is called a "coop" on her floating farm.
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  • The farm is made of bamboo plants and empty oil containers, or drums.
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  • It is attached to the bank of a river near the village of Charbhangura.
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  • Women also raise fish and vegetables on the floating farm.
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  • 25-year-old Hafiza Khatun could not earn money during the rainy season before she had her floating farm.
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  • Ms. Khatun has two small children.
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  • She does not have any education.
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  • Her husband is an agricultural worker.
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  • But he does not work when monsoon rains fall from July to October.
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  • During that time, the Gurmani river rises at least three meters.
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  • Three years ago, a Bangladeshi non-profit organization called Shidhulai Swanirvar Sangstha brought small floating farms to the village.
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  • The farms are 17 meters long and almost five meters wide.
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  • They are made of both recycled and local materials.
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  • Long bamboo rails create places to raise fish in nets.
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  • Vegetables such as gourds and beans are grown in plastic containers filled with soil.
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  • Shidhulai pays the cost of making the farm.
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  • For Ms. Khatun and other villagers, life is difficult during the flood season.
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  • Ms. Khatun says when the water comes, her house goes underwater.
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  • There is no place to go, no place to stay, she says.
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  • There is water everywhere.
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  • But now she can grow food on the floating farm and earn money from selling some of it.
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  • Five to ten women work on one farm.
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  • Depending on the size of the farm, together they can earn about $1,700 a year.
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  • That amount of money can buy a lot of food in rural Bangladesh.
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  • Ms. Khatun also rented land with the money she earned.
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  • She grows sugar cane on the land.
  • [03:26.99]
  • Her family is saving money in a bank for the first time.
  • [03:31.68]
  • Mohammed Rezwan started Shidhulai Swanirvar Sangstha in 1998 to create schools on boats.
  • [03:41.54]
  • The school boats let poor children continue their education even when flood waters block the roads they use to get to their school.
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  • Four years ago, he created floating farms so people can still earn money and feed themselves during flood season.
  • [04:01.39]
  • Bangladesh is close to sea level, which means it is greatly affected by climate change that causes flooding and rising sea waters.
  • [04:12.65]
  • The difficulties of making money in the rainy seasons often lead rural people to move to cities in Bangladesh. Most cities are very crowded.
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  • Bangladesh is one of the world's most densely populated countries.
  • [04:30.36]
  • There are 156 million people in an area that measures 144,000 square kilometers.
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  • That is about half as many people who live in the United States.
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  • But that country measures about 9.9 million square kilometers.
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  • Mr. Rezwan says there is great demand for answers for areas affected by climate change.
  • [04:58.43]
  • "Bangladesh is on the front line of climate change.
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  • We have hundreds of rivers in the country.
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  • So this project has big potential to be scaled up in the country and other developing countries,
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  • particularly the countries that will be affected by climate change."
  • [05:17.99]
  • Shidhulai has created 40 floating farms that help about 300 women and their families.
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  • Mr. Rezwan wants to create 400 more farms in the next few years.
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  • He believes the floating farm idea can be used in other developing countries.
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  • "We hope that the idea of on water farming will be replicated in other settings.It helps people adapt to changing climates.It creates jobs.
  • [05:53.31]
  • It ensures food security and helps the whole family to adapt to the climate change."
  • [06:02.47]
  • School boats are being used in several other countries, including the Philippines, Cambodia, Vietnam, Nigeria and Zambia.
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  • The group's floating schools have helped more than 70,000 children in northwest Bangladesh go to classes since 2002.
  • [06:24.58]
  • And that's the VOA Learning English Agriculture Report.
  • [06:29.88]
  • For more agriculture and environment stories, go to our website: learningenglish.voanews.com.
  • [06:39.77]
  • I'm Marsha James.
  • [06:42.95]
  • Words in This Story
  • [06:46.71]
  • coop - n. a cage or small building in which chickens or other small animals are kept
  • [06:56.19]
  • recycle - v. to make something new from (something that has been used before)
  • [07:04.49]
  • rural - adj. of or relating to the country and the people who live there instead of the city
  • [07:14.71]
  • densely - adv. crowded with people
  • [07:20.96]
  • replicate - v. to repeat or copy (something) exactly
  • [07:27.76]
  • Now, it's your turn to use these Words in This Story.
  • [07:32.40]
  • In the comments section, write a sentence using one of these words and we will provide feedback on your use of vocabulary and grammar.
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