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Girls fighting climate change with fish

24 June 2024, Impact of Our Work

Ending the cycle of poverty and malnutrition in Bangladesh 

To say that Munni is a trailblazer is an understatement. Being the first girl in her community to try her hand at fish farming was just the start. She’s also developed skills to increase sustainable food production and treat malnutrition, she’s a peer educator on child marriage and she’s helping to build climate resilient practices to protect her community against flooding. All before reaching her 19th birthday!

As for the future, Munni tells us, “I’ll study a lot. I will get to a good position and help others…That is my purpose.” 

Support from an integrated program led by Save the Children 

Save the Children is supporting Munni to achieve her goals with training through the ‘Suchana’ (‘New Beginnings’) program. The Suchana program is led by Save the Children in conjunction with national and international partners to address chronic undernutrition among women and children in Sylhet and Moulvibazar, Bangladesh.

Undernutrition is prevalent across Bangladesh, and at the start of the program in 2016, over 50% of children in Sylhet were stunted - the worst rate in the country. Children with stunted growth lack the nutrition they need for their bodies and brains to develop, and the consequences can last a lifetime. 

Climate change, floods and the threat to livelihoods 

Families in this part of Bangladesh are also especially vulnerable to climate change as they live in a flood-prone area with seasonal floods. Munni has experienced the impact of floods that displaced millions and destroyed homes and livelihoods. “The flood … was unlike many past floods. There was a lot of damage. People had to vacate their homes. It caused widespread damage … our house was flooded, and so was every house in the area … Our house was completely destroyed,”  she shares. 

But the fish she had been farming in a pond nearby were not swept away by the floods. “Initially, people laughed about it. How can we do fish farming? They'll swim away with the flood,”  she says. But following Suchana’s training, Munni placed a netted cage around the pond, and “If fish farming is done in net, it's a good thing. [Now,] everyone praises that I am doing fish farming, it’s going great,”  she says. 

As well as training her in fish farming, Munni received other support. “Suchana provided me with a duck. And by selling those duck eggs, I bought five more ducks. We also used to consume those eggs at home. I used to sell those too. And I save that money to buy books.”  

Take a look the short video below to see how your support of Save the Children is helping Munni and other women and girls in her village change the course of their families’ futures for generations to come. 

Fighting for the rights of women and girls 

In Munni’s village, early marriage exacerbates the problem of malnutrition, with babies born to adolescent girls at greater risk of stunting. That’s in addition to the huge damage child marriage does to the mental and physical wellbeing of teenage girls and their future life chances. With training from Suchana, Munni speaks with other girls to spread the message. “I tell them about child marriage, about life experiences, about everything. I like talking with them. We walk all the way to the college. And these are the things we talk about then.”

“Child marriages are prevalent in the village,” she explains, “we won't let them [continue]. We are young and we have our lives… And we need to be vigilant ourselves.”

If the parents don't understand, we have to make them understand. We need to explain child marriages are not good. It's a crime. This is doing injustice to their daughter


12-year-old Tanni has a brighter future to look forward to thanks to the trailblazing efforts of her big sister, Munni. 

Most of all, Munni is motivated by the thought of giving her little sister, 12-year-old Tanni, the opportunity for a better future. “My sister is really priceless. I'm really proud to have my sister. I love her a lot ... My aim is to make my sister's future [good].  May she be well educated and successful … May she be successful and do good for humanity. May she always help people. That's what I want.” 

Photos: Save the Children.

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