Dhemaji: Reconstructing houses, besides helping children and livestock adjust to a new place, as floods turn them into refugees every year is what the women of Assam’s Dhemaji district have to endure.
Their people, who are mostly migrant workers living in remote towns or farms, are sometimes unaware of the floods that have washed away their homes and often family members.
The mighty Brahmaputra and its 26 tributaries submerge vast tracts of land in the district’s 1,200-odd villages, and they remain under water for a large part of the year, from April to October—because three to four of the floods The waves force people to seek shelter. Safe places, some of which never return.
‘We have to leave our homes with our children and livestock and move to safer places during the flood season almost every year. When we come back, we either have to repair our house or sometimes rebuild at a new place,” Junali Hazong, an Anganwadi worker from Azarbari village, told PTI.
In the rural areas of Dhemaji district, most of the houses are made of bamboo, locally called Chang ghar. People stay indoors while cattle are kept down. However, during floods, animals have to be kept inside to prevent them from being swept away.
When it becomes dangerous to stay at home during floods, they move to the embankments and return home after the water recedes.
“Some people don’t return and move to higher ground in remote areas in the hope that the impact of the floods will be less severe in those areas,” said Binita Doley, a housewife in Medipauma village.
Many residents of the worst-hit villages have moved home several times.
“Floods are a way of life for us but we face enormous difficulties to make both ends meet,” he said.
Women face other problems both during and after the flood season where 32 percent of girls are married before the age of 18.
During floods, we face the problem of hygiene and sanitation, especially for pregnant and menstruating women, proper nutrition and child safety. After the water recedes, the fields are not suitable for cultivation and we cannot survive on the limited produce, and our men are forced to leave home to earn money,” said 30-year-old Sumita Pegu.
“It is not that we want our sons to go and work outside the village but there is no option. I miss my two sons who are working in Kerala but I don’t want them to come back because they are here. “Can’t get a good job or earn a living,” said 54-year-old Minu Taye.
Sometimes women and adolescent girls also go out in search of livelihood.
“Migration is a reality but we try to ensure that it is safe, especially in the case of women and children as there is a high risk of being trafficked,” said an NGO Rural Volunteer Centre. (RVC) director Luit Goswami said. which works for flood affected people.
However, the women of Dhemaji, which is mostly populated by the Mising tribe, besides the women like Hajong and Bodo, are very hardworking and contribute a lot to the rural economy.
Goswami said rural markets in the region are poorly developed, unorganized and controlled by middlemen, and small producers, mostly women, are forced to sell their agricultural produce at unprofitable prices.
Mukhtiarpur Gram Panchayat President Parmanand Pegu said another problem faced by the villagers is children being taken to neighboring districts or states to work as domestic workers.
“Most parents in villages want their children to go to school and have full attendance at the primary level. But as they reach the middle and high school levels, the dropout rate increases, especially In the case of girls, because they have to walk long distances to reach schools which is difficult during flood season,” he added.
Goswami said RVC provides thread support to women weavers, training of weaver groups to improve production quality, market linkages and livestock and farm related training.
There is a lot of searching for missing fabric in urban areas of Assam and elsewhere.
The government has also taken several measures to alleviate the problems of the flood-affected women of Dhemaji.
“To facilitate income generation, the government is helping them form self-help groups, providing them with thread and improved seeds, and organizing livelihood training programs,” said Montesque Doley, an official of the Assam State Rural Livelihood Mission. It helps.”
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