Stepping into a village under the wide spread green canopy of trees after walking a few kilometers through the luster of green rice fields, any one will hear the noise of thousands of birds flapping their wings on their ascent into the air.
Living in harmony with nature has always been an integral part of the culture of Bengal. This has been abundantly reflected in a variety of traditional practices. Far from the maddening urban crowd, a village in North-west Bangladesh has an inspiring conservation story on developing an enabling environment and refusing to allow the killing of any bird in the village including migratory ones.
The people of Barenda village in Chapai Nawabganj district are carrying forward the legacy of protecting the diversity of life. It began with the initiatives of a few bird lovers- Mansur Rahman (age 60) Hasan Ali (38) and Anisur Rahman (37) among others. They started campaigns to make people aware not to disturb the habitat of their winged friends. Their persistent endeavors were rewarded. People of the village got involved in preserving, instead of killing birds. The number and variety of birds increased. Last winter, the village hosted habitation for at least 15,000 birds from 30 species. Village households installed clay pitchers around their roof’s edge to provide nests for the birds.
With only a population of 1,500, Barenda has emerged as a favorite site for bird watching. Along with protecting the birds and their habitats, villagers have also planted many trees to attract birds in large numbers to make it their habitat.
The village has a history of coordinated efforts for community development. The community organization Barenda Village Development Cooperative Society is working for the advancement of the community. After a long struggle, they now have the capacity to manage and finance their own immediate development needs. Diakonia’s partner Bangladesh Resource Center for Indigenous Knowledge (BARCIK) is working with this organization since 2010. The support of BARCIK has encouraged the village organization to coordinate their bird protection initiatives. In the last Word Environment Day 2015, the people declared their village as a ‘Bird Sanctuary’. People of the village are now aptly informed and aware on the basics of bird preservation. There are festoons, signboards around the village bearing do’s and don’ts about their winged friends. Barenda has proven that people have the power to change when it has the will to change.
Author: Javed Hussen, Diakonia Bangladesh
Information source: Amit Sarker, BARCIK
Photos: Khodeja Sultana, Diakonia Bangladesh