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Climate, poverty and health: complex combinations in the Sundarbans


Climate, poverty and health: complex combinations in the Sundarbans

Future Health Systems

This post was written by Upasona Ghosh, Senior Research Officer at the Indian Institute of Health Management Research and originally appeared on Eldis. It is one of two case studies published on Eldis to mark the World Health Organization conference on health and climate, which tookplace in Geneva from 27-29 August.

My first trip to Sundarbans was as a tourist. I was left mesmerized by the beauty of the natural mangrove trees and crisscrossing creeks. I found it difficult to imagine that, due to climate change, the five million islanders of this 'beautiful forest'™ (as Sundarbans means in Bengali) have the daily battle of an inhospitable terrain, combined with frequent climatic shocks like floods and cyclones which take place almost every year.

My later frequent visits to this island archipelago have been as a researcher of climate and child health in this vulnerable region. Working for the Institute of Health Management Research under two innovative projects --“ Future Health Systems and the STEPS Centre's 'Uncertainty from Below'.“ I have tried to explore and understand the uncertainties faced by the people of Sundarbans, due to climatic events, not only in direct relation to community health, but also to the other social determinants, such as livelihood and food security.