Sundarbans tourism helping Hindu women in Bangladesh

The objective of the Sundarbans Handicraft Bangladesh project is to reduce poverty and expand Sundarban culture and heritage by involving the disadvantaged community in the production and selling of souvenir items. The products are made by the tiger-widow, indigenous munda community and low caste Hindu women, the poorest and vulnerable to cyclone disaster in the Sundarbans coastal areas especially surrounding Sundarbans, UNESCO declared World Heritage site, Bangladesh.

Products are made with cloth and decorated by hand. Men create the trays and frames, and the women utilize their traditional sewing talents related to local culture to create the designs. They work in a small house for handicraft production which contains sewing machine, showcase, chair and table and is open to Sundarbans tourists.

CCEC has initially involved 20-30 women but plan to engage 300- 400 women surrounding four Forest Range locations. The goal is to make an association of the women called “Sundarbans Handicraft Bangladesh.” It is very important to keep them working!

Please support the handicraft women network; it will be an outstanding humanitarian action and will provide food and poverty reduction for these women.

More information about the Centre for Coastal Environmental Conservation is available here.

Information about the Area

The Sundarbans Mangroves eco-region on the coast forms the seaward fringe of the delta and is the world’s largest mangrove ecosystem, with 10,000 square kilometers covering Bangladesh and India.

The Sundarbans provides a unique ecosystem and a rich wildlife habitat. According to the 2004 tiger census by UNDP, the Sundarbans have about 712 (Bangladesh 440 + India 272) tigers. Tiger attacks are frequent in the Sundarbans. Between 50 and 60 people/Sundarbans resource (wood, thatch, fish, crab, honey, wax, crustaceans) harvesters are killed per year, leaving “tiger widows” without a means of caring for themselves or their families.

The forest is also rich in bird life, with 170 species including the endemic Brown-winged Kingfishers (Pelargopsisamauroptera). Mangroves are a transition from the marine to freshwater and terrestrial systems, and provide critical habitat for numerous species of small fish, crabs, shrimps and other crustaceans that adapt to feed and shelter, and reproduce among the tangled mass of roots, known as pneumatophores, which grow upward from the anaerobic mud to get the supply of oxygen. Fishing Cats, Macaques, wild boars, Common Grey Mongooses, Foxes, Jungle Cats, Flying Foxes, Pangolins, and spotted deer are also found in abundance in the Sundarbans.

A 1991 study has revealed that the Bangladeshi part of the Sundarbans supports diverse biological resources including at least 150 species of commercially important fish, 270 species of birds, 42 species of mammals, 35 reptiles and 8 amphibian species. This represents a significant proportion of the species present in Bangladesh (i.e. about 30% of the reptiles, 37% the birds and 34% of the mammals) and includes a large number of species which are now extinct elsewhere in the country. Two amphibians, 14 reptiles, 25 aves and five mammals are endangered. The Sundarbans is an important wintering area for migrant water birds and is an area suitable for watching and studying avifauna.