A village tackles cyclones: Why are women in Odisha regrowing a forest?

Location IconPuri district, Odisha

Five decades ago, when Bengalata Rout arrived in Odisha’s Tandahara village, the natural environment was very different from what it is now. “When I got married into this village, the sea was very far away. Now it has come very close,’’ Rout says. Today, 64-year-old Rout and other villagers live in constant fear as Tandahara is frequently battered by cyclones and high tides. 

Odisha has seen a four-fold increase in extreme floods and a three-fold increase in extreme cyclones since the year 2000. During the 1999 supercyclone, Tandahara village lost most of the casuarina forest that acted as a natural buffer against storm surges and seawater intrusion. Since then, seawater has been destroying the paddy cultivation of the village. Now 10 women-led self-help groups have come together to replant the forest, which they believe can be a defence against extreme climate events. Every day women in groups of 20 take turns to water saplings. “Our village exists because of the forest,” says Rout, president of the village forest committee. 

Shawn Sebastian is a documentary filmmaker, independent journalist, and the founder of Drokpa Films. 

This film is a part of the Faces of Climate Resilience documentary project by Council on Energy, Environment and Water (CEEW) in partnership with India Climate Collaborative, EdelGive Foundation, and Drokpa Films.

Know more: Learn how farm ponds led to an increase in income for grape farmers in Maharashtra. 

Do more: Connect with Shawn Sebastian at [email protected] to learn more about and support his work; connect with Milan Jacob at [email protected] to know more about the Faces of Climate Resilience project.


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