Bangladesh: Rebuilding life after the cyclones

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BARGUNA, BANGLADESH - Within only 18 month, Bangladesh has been severely hit by two cyclones. In November 2007 it was cyclone Sidr causing thousands of deaths and massive devastation. In late May 2009, it was cyclone Aila, causing major flooding, further deaths and destruction.

Relief Officer in ACT member DanChurchAid, P. Kristian Pedersen recently visited Barguna in Southern Bangladesh to review the progress of the rehabilitation work. These are his observations:

ACT members and partners were involved from right after the first cyclone and offered immediate emergency assistance, food, water, blankets, etc. Later, rehabilitation work followed rebuilding houses, water and food supply.

The rehabilitation work has been carried out in close cooperation with local authorities and residents; considerable efforts are made to ensure that it is the poorest that will benefit from the help.

During my latest visit I met with many beneficiaries. I especially remember two meetings:

Aleya, married to a poor landless labourer doing casual farm work. They have 3 daughters at 8, 14 and 18 years. Their house was completely destroyed by cyclone Sidr, but she has now with the assistance of ACT member Dan Church Aid (DCA) grant been able to rebuild a small house.

As a participatory element in the rehabilitation project, Aleya herself has been on the market to select the required building materials, and her name is now on the door.

Selina and her brother are both dumb. They live with their parents. The father is landless but leases 2 acre of land where he is cultivating paddy rice. Through the DCA rehabilitation project Selina has received a calf and once it starts giving milk, the whole family will benefit from it.

Like Aleya, Selina herself has selected a calf of her choice on the market, and despite the fact that Selina could not speak, it was very obvious that she was very pleased with her new calf.

Recently, a marriage has been planned for Selina, but her parents have not yet been able to pay the required amount of dowry (approx. 190 USD).

Within the ECHO-funded project,

- 1,100 houses will be constructed

- 2,000 houses will be repaired

- 2,000 pit latrines

- 25 water pumps.

- 2,500 families will receive support for growing vegetables

- 2,500 families will get assistance to grow rice.

- 600 families will each receive a calf

- 600 families will each receive 20 ducks.

Overall, the project aims at assisting 11,550 families in having a better future.