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Climate Change and the Displacement Dilemma of Several Communities

Mass migration due to climate change is leading several out of their homes. Such a situation shows the urgency and complexity of the global crisis.

Mrini Devnani
Communities have been forced to leave their homelands due to the impact of climate change (This is a representative image; created with MidJourney)
Communities have been forced to leave their homelands due to the impact of climate change (This is a representative image; created with MidJourney)

In the inexorable march of climate change, no corner of the globe remains untouched. Its devastating impact echoes from the coastlines of Odisha to the tranquil islands of Panama, leaving behind a trail of displacement and despair.

Take, for instance, Podampeta, a once-vibrant village along the coast of Ganjam district in Odisha, now standing eerily deserted. The haunting silence of its empty streets tells a story of a community forced to abandon their beloved homes as relentless erosion eats away at the shoreline.

Podampeta's plight mirrors a broader crisis unfolding along Odisha's coastline, where a staggering 196 kilometers of shoreline—nearly half of the state's coastal stretch—has succumbed to erosion between 1990 and 2015. With each passing day, the tides grow more aggressive, leaving behind a landscape scarred by the relentless onslaught of the sea.

The impact of shoreline erosion extends far beyond Podampeta, with 74 villages in Odisha reeling under its severe effects, marking the highest number of affected communities in India. Each home lost, and each family displaced, is a reminder of the urgent need to address the climate crisis gripping our world.

Similarly, on the picturesque island of Gardi Sugdub, nestled off the Caribbean coast of Panama, approximately 300 families are preparing to bid farewell to their ancestral homes. For generations, the Indigenous Guna people have thrived in harmony with the sea and tourism on this idyllic island. However, the impending move to the mainland next week marks a poignant transition for these resilient inhabitants. It's a decision born not out of choice but necessity, driven by the alarming rise in sea levels that threatens to swallow their island paradise whole.

As we witness the heartbreaking scenes of communities uprooted from their homes, it's clear that the time for action is now. Climate change knows no boundaries—it spares no one.

When asked, Dr Arjun Suresh, Director of SAVE Vibrant Earth Foundation, about the subject matter, he said, “Climate Change is causing disturbances in several parts of India including states like Uttarakhand, Madhya Pradesh, and many more. Besides, the groundwater levels are depleting in several metropolitan areas too. Considering this, several people are considering relocation. However, post-COVID-19, in many rural areas, communities seem to be returning due to the promise of new income streams.” He further shared that he along with his team are collectively working to re-populate Vypin in Kerala via mangrove plantation. He plans to introduce eco-tourism and smart fish farming in the region.

Truly, it's a wake-up call for us all to come together, to heed the warnings of our changing planet, and to take bold, decisive action to safeguard the future of our world and all who call it home.

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