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Battered by Mahasen- Life still continues in cyclone ravaged Barguna

February 20th, 2014 by Posted in Emergencies

Md Abdul Quayyum, Media and Communication Coordinator

Barguna, located in the Barishal Division of South-western Bangladesh, geographically is bound by the Bay of Bengal on the South, and is surrounded by rivers Payra, Bishkhali and Baleshwar, which make it vulnerable to natural disaster.

The devastating super-cyclone SIDR that ripped through the country’s south-western region and claimed many lives in 2007 still haunts the memory of people in Barguna, like a nightmare. And to make that even worse, another tropical storm Mahasen lashed Barguna, Bhola, Patuakhali and Pirojpur on 16 May 2013, leaving at least 14 dead. (Source: The Daily Star)

Comprehending the necessity of restoring livelihoods and reducing food insecurity, Oxfam together with Plan Bangladesh, Solidarity International, Islamic Relief and Concern Universal as part of NARRI  consortium, with financial support from  UK AID, has been implementing a six month project titled “Enable Tropical Storm Mahasen affected households to reduce food insecurity and restore livelihoods.” Under this project, Oxfam alone is covering 2999 households in Dhalua  and Naltona Union of  Barguna district.

Another 5 month project titled “Recovery Effort for Food Security and Integrated Lasting Livelihood or Mahasen Affected Areas in Barguna-REFILL” launched by Oxfam in November 2013,  with financial support from ECHO covers 1500 households in two other unions of the same district. Both projects are implemented by JAGO NARI, a local partner of Oxfam  focusing on the following activities:

Cash for Work (CFW)

In consultation with the Union Parishad (local government), different schemes were identified in line with the Risk Reduction Action Plan  (RRAP) for CFW. A Project Implementation Committee (PIC) consisting of the local community was also formed in order to determine activities to be implemented.

Project Implementation Committee

Project Implementation Committee

Cash for Work targets 4499 (2999+1500) beneficiaries in the four Unions under the two projects with each beneficiary receiving 200 Taka ($2.5) per day.  This program has not only created numerous employment opportunities for the beneficiaries; ranging from 16 to 21 days but also contributed  to different development ventures  – ultimately having a positive impact on the livelihoods of the community, as shown in the faces of women in the picture.

Group of female beneficiaries in Noltola Union Photo: Abdul Quayyum/Oxfam

Group of female beneficiaries in Noltola Union Photo: Abdul Quayyum/Oxfam

Take the example from Noltola Union, which is in the process of constructing a road leading to the sea; promoting sea beach tourism and the livelihoods of fishermen who will be able to carry their goods more effectively and cost-efficiently, once the road is ready.

Cash for work, Sea beach tourism

   Cash for work, Sea beach tourism,                                      Photo: Abdul Quayyum/Oxfam

Md Shofiquzzaman, Chairman of Noltola Union praises the Cash for Work Scheme having said  “This is not only creating employment opportunities for the poor people of my Union but also helping others by building roads. I thank Oxfam and Jago Nari for introducing this scheme”

Chairman of Noltola union

Chairman of Noltola union

The CFW Scheme aims to encourage and uphold gender equality by ensuring  more than 50% of those employed are women.  When asked  what was being done with the money, most women reported  buying  seeds, fertilizer, livestock and leasing cultivable land to ensure long term food security.  Ajifa – shown in the photo below, was able to purchase three goats with the money earned after her 21 days of employment and available cash grants. Her family is now slowly recovering from the loss caused by Mahasen.

Ajifa with her family and recently purchased goats

Ajifa with her family and recently purchased goats          Photo:  Abdul Quayyum/Oxfam

Cash grants for restoring livelihood

Cash grants are  being provided to allow beneficiaries to purchase  essential assets  for the recovery of their livelihoods.  Each beneficiary receives a total amount of  BDT 6,500 ($84) in several installments to restore their livelihoods. New technology known as  Mobile Money Transfer (MMT) has also been introduced by Oxfam to transfer money instantly. Facilitated by  mobile phone operators and bKash, the MMT  scheme permits  local bank to transfer  money across the country.

Women like Shobita and Gabtoli in the picture can now get money within a minute of being transferred from Oxfam/Jago Nari from their remote village of Gorapodda of Noltola Union.

Shobita and Gabtoli after receiving money using mobile SIM

Shobita and Gabtoli after receiving money using mobile SIM Photo: Abdul Quayyum/Oxfam

With this  money Shafia is in the progress of cultivating her own homestead vegetable garden in front of her house and  also has bought cattle.

Shafia bought a cow, she is planning to sell it in next year with profit.

Shafia bought a cow, she is planning to sell it in next year with profit. Photo: Abdul Quayyum/Oxfam

Ambia helped her husband to buy a Rickshaw earning 200 – 250 taka per day  allowing them to sleep with no more hunger.

Ambia with her husband and newly purchased Rickshaw

Ambia with her husband and newly purchased Rickshaw Photo: Abdul Quayyum/Oxfam

Like Rasheda who with her money, has leased land to cultivate vegetables, many others are now following her footsteps  to secure their livelihoods.

Rasheda in front of her leased land

Rasheda in front of her leased land                                       Photo: Abdul Quayyum/Oxfam

Seed distribution

This activity  implemented under the two projects in which  seeds, fertilizer and tools are being provided to the beneficiaries with an aim to improve the condition and quality of their food. Eight different varieties of vegetable seeds were given to start a homestead garden.

When asked, Sufia a 55 year old widow said, “I don’t need to buy vegetables now, rather couple of times I sold some vegetables”

Sufia cultivates in her homestead vegetable garden

Sufia cultivates in her homestead vegetable garden             Photo: Abdul Quayyum/Oxfam

Like her, almost every  beneficiary now has a homestead garden and with the knowledge attained  from attending training sessions on  gardening, is now being transferred to non-beneficiaries living in the  village.

Awareness building trainings

Training session

Training session Photo: Abdul Quayyum/Oxfam

Training sessions on different modules such as  Homestead gardening, Nutrition, Safe drinking water, Climate change and Disaster preparedness are  ensuring the livelihoods of beneficiaries and raising awareness of how to act if a natural disaster should strike again.

  1. 2 Responses to “Battered by Mahasen- Life still continues in cyclone ravaged Barguna”

  2. By Ashish Barua on Feb 21, 2014

    Mouth-watering! Thanks for capturing everything on a same frame!!

  3. By Kazi Azam on Feb 27, 2014

    Creation of different livelihoods scopes are very important which enhancing the earning capacity of commun people living in the affected areas.

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