The ethnic children and women in Naogaon district have been suffering from malnutrition due to disappearance of the sources of nutrition triggered by drought.
"In the past, we passed our days by eating eel, fish, crab and snail, which were abundant here, to meet our nutritional demand. But those have disappeared from our locality for lack of rainfall. That's why we have been suffering from malnutrition," said Parbati Akkata, a woman of Oraon community at Porsha upazila.
"We have no enough affordability to eat meat," she said, "So, now we only eat vegetables grown in wild and on the homestead premises."
Ataur Rahman, programme officer of local NGO Barendrabhumi Samaj Unnayan Sangstha (BSDO), said the aquatic animals like eel, fish, crab and snail are the main sources for the plain-land ethic people to meet their nutritional demand.
But, he said, the habitats of those species – waterbodies and canals – are being dried up there due to poor rainfall, destroying the sources of nutrition.
Ataur said the ethnic women and children have been suffered more from malnutrition since the poor ethnic households do not have enough affordability to buy nutritional food items like meat and fish.
Water scarcity is a common phenomenon in the Barind region during the dry season. But, even in monsoon, the Naogaon district now experiences poor rainfall due to changes in precipitation pattern, caused by climate change, contributing a prolonged drought there that damages Aman paddy fields of ethic people.
"Last year, my Aman paddy fields were dried up for lack of rainfall. I harvested only 100 kilograms of paddy in one bigha of land. Paddy depends on rainwater. We have planted paddy this year, but I do not know whether we would be able to harvest paddy or not," Sukur Oraon, a sharecropper, said.
"No rain, no crop. If rains do not occur, the paddy fields will dry up this year too," he added.
In Barind region, the plain-land ethnic people are landless and they (both man and women) work as agriculture labourers or sharecroppers. Aman paddy is the lone crop, which depends on rainwater, in the region.
Frequent droughts, poor precipitation and higher temperature, caused by climate change, have driven the landlords to leave paddy cultivation and switch to profitable cash crops.
Ataur said if the paddy of ethnic people dry up for lack of rainfall, they would have to face food crisis, resulting malnutrition among them, particularly among the women and children.