The Sundarbans span the border between India and Bangladesh where the super confluence of the Ganges, Brahmaputra and Meghna rivers meet the sea. Climate change is one of the greatest challenges facing people living here and already devastating increased extreme weather events are being felt, destroying lives, homes and farmland.
Cyclone Aila was the second tropical cyclone to form within the Northern Indian Ocean in 2009. On the 25th of May it hit the Sundarbans delta on the Bangladesh and India border with full force, breaching defence walls, flooding farmland and flattening homes. Hundreds of people where killed and more than 22,000 lost their homes to the sea. A year after the cyclone huge swathes of once fertile agricultural land have been destroyed by the saline ocean water and are now wasteland.
300 local people are involved in rebuilding the destroyed sea defence wall in south west Sagar Island in the Indian side of the Sundarbans delta. Smashed to pieces by cyclone Aila the previous year, the community are trying to protect themselves from increasing tidal surges and extreme weather events.
"The government pay for this two kilometre wall," says Ranjat Gayen, one of the people in charge of building the wall. Despite long days and back breaking work the atmosphere among the wall builders is positive. Different teams are constantly busy moving concrete blocks, sandbags and rocks with their bare hands. "It will take more than one year to complete it and we are going to have to work during the monsoon too," adds Ranjat, "we are all praying we don't have another Aila."
Wall builders photographed after carrying sandsacks.
300 local people are involved in building a sea defence wall in south west Sagar Island in the Indian side of the Sundarbans delta. The community are trying to protect themselves from increasing tidal surges and extreme weather events. The previous wall was smashed to pieces by cyclone Aila the previous year.