Bangladesh: Population movement - Emergency appeal n° MDRBD018

This Emergency Appeal is being launched on a preliminary basis and seeks a total of 3,265,766 Swiss francs to enable the IFRC to support the Bangladesh Red Crescent Society (BDRCS) to deliver assistance and support to some 25,000 people for 9 months, with a focus on the following sectors: Health, WASH, food security, nutrition, emergency shelter, non-food items, restoring family links and disaster risk reduction. The planned response reflects the current situation and information available at this time of the evolving operation, and will be adjusted by 1 June 2017 based on further detailed assessments and further analysis.

The crisis and the Red Cross Red Crescent response to date

October-December 2016: Mass population movements influx from Rakhine State in Myanmar to Cox’s Bazar takes place

2 January 2017: Bangladesh Red Crescent Society (BDRCS) requests support from its in-country partners to scale-up activities

17 January 2017: 273,151 Swiss francs allocated from the IFRC’s Disaster Relief Emergency Fund (DREF)

25-31 January 2017: A joint Movement (BDRCS, IFRC and ICRC) assessment takes place in different areas of Cox’s Bazar District

7 February 2017: A Regional Disaster Response Teams (RDRT) member is deployed to support the DREF operation

February 2017: ICRC provides 450,000 Swiss francs towards the BDRCS response, with BDRCS also raising 30,000 Swiss francs from their local donors.

18 March 2017: IFRC launches an Emergency Appeal for 3,265,766 Swiss francs, to enable the delivery of assistance to 25,000 people.

The operational strategy Needs assessment and beneficiary selection Findings from assessments carried out between December 2016 and January 2017 and an analysis of secondary data indicate that the newly arrived population in Cox’s Bazar are extremely vulnerable. Concerns for the newly displaced persons include lack of access to food security and nutrition, basic household items,
WASH facilities, shelter, health, psychosocial support (PSS), gender and protection issues and the need for Restoring Family Links (RFL) services.

Many of the new arrivals have no access to income sources and inadequate access to the minimum levels of food for survival. As a result, many are adopting negative coping strategies which are affecting the new arrivals along with the wider host and other communities. Diarrhoea, skin diseases, pneumonia, fever, respiratory tract infections and water borne diseases are commonly reported. The available health services are unable to cope with the increasing case load.

The new influx group is also at risk of communicable diseases due to poor preventive measures and low knowledge on hygiene practices. Inadequate sanitation facilities are compelling open defecation, creating concerns for the contamination of water sources. At present, one community/shared latrine is used by at least 185 households. These latrines are not protected and are structurally unsound, which is leading to privacy and security concerns.

Menstrual hygiene management is another key aspect which needs to be addressed. Hygiene promotion activities and distribution of menstruation management materials among women and girls of menstruating age will be considered.

There are considerable psychosocial needs among the new arrivals, including those related to gender-related risks, including gender-based violence, and inadequate access to information for females due to low rates of literacy. Gendered roles also impact on access to nutrition and, due to low numbers of female health staff, there are barriers to females accessing basic services due to cultural issues around visiting male service providers.

Many of the new arrivals are children, who face risks to their safety and dignity, including exposure to violence and inadequate access to food and water. Those risks are even higher for unaccompanied children.

Although safe drinking water sources are available, they are insufficient to meet the minimum needs for drinking, cooking and basic hygiene practices. One shallow hand pump is being used by at least 200 households, whereby each household is only receiving an average 17 litres of water. There are also long queues of one hour in the morning and evening to use the hand pump. In some cases, the water quality is found to be not suitable for drinking due to poor water management and storage.

The newly arrived population is seeking shelter in often poor and fragile structures, which are unable to offer privacy, security or protection from weather. This is compounded with limited access to construction and shelter materials and toolkits – often to limit the establishment of permanent settlements. The cutting of hill tops for settlements also increases the risk of soil erosion and landslides around the area. The use of forest trees, shrubs and herbs as fuel for cooking further affects the ecosystem in the area. Therefore, there will be a need to advocate for temporary shelter assistance and measures for environmental protection. The new influx of population is also living with inadequate essential household items to meet the minimum needs of a family.

Some of the identified basic household needs include blankets, kitchen sets, mosquito nets, jerry cans, mats, fire boxes, clothes – sarees, lungies and baby clothes – towels, buckets with lids and cooking stoves with fuel.

There is a need to scale up community engagement activities within host communities and the influx population, including the provision of information on the registration process and mobility options. This could include mapping out BDRCS and other stakeholders’ services, enhancing their visibility and access to the targeted persons. Health and hygiene promotion messaging can be delivered through posters, brochures, and audio recorded information programmes through radio or loud speakers to be played in strategic locations.

In view of the context, BDRCS has come up with an overall response strategy to address the humanitarian needs of affected people. Based on the assessment findings, the National Society developed an initial overall plan of action (PoA) for one year, with a budget of CHF 5 million. This Emergency Appeal focuses on nine months of that plan, thus a budget of CHF 3.26 million.