Since 25th August 2017, Bangladesh has welcomed over 693,000 forcibly-displaced Rohingyas1 from Myanmar who require immediate, ongoing humanitarian services to address their basic needs. The concentration of displaced people in Cox’s Bazar district of Bangladesh is now among the densest in the world. Taking into account the pre-existing Rohingya population in the area, and affected members of the host community, roughly 1.3 million people are in need of comprehensive services and support.
With the crisis now entering its seven month, the dynamics of the situation have shifted from one defined by an ongoing, massive influx to ensuring the day-to-day living needs of the Rohingya and host communities in the context of a more stable, but still quite fluid and dynamic, environment. While the needs are no less acute, programmes need to adapt to better address the current context and ensure maximum impact going forward. With the political discussions for ensuring secure and dignified repatriation ongoing interventions should offer Rohingyas opportunities to build skills and resilience that are long-lasting and applicable in multiple contexts. These include learning opportunities for child, life skills for adolescents, and cash for work programmes for adults. Meanwhile, camp structure and programming must also strengthen prevention and response planning for fires, potential disease outbreaks, and natural disasters.
BRAC has over 35 years of presence in Cox’s Bazar, and has in place the largest civil society response for the newly arrived Rohingyas. With a team of more than 3,200 people already in place, including over 1,600 from the host and close to 1,200 from the Rohingya community, BRAC is actively implementing comprehensive interventions designed to meet the immediate needs of vulnerable people while building skills, resilience, and awareness that will facilitate their long-term well-being as the situation evolves.
With global experience in humanitarian and development programming, BRAC has a proven ability to rapidly design, implement and adapt programmes with high levels of value-for-money and sustainable impact.
Since launching its response activities on September 10th, BRAC has providing over 668,760 people with at least one form of critical support. As of April 30, 2018, BRAC’s key achievements include:
668,760 provided access to basic sanitation through 16,719 latrines
449,442 provided access to safe water through 1,566 tube wells
1,310,012 patients received medical and health services
576,843 children immunised from diphtheria as part of multi-stakeholder vaccination campaign
98,329 households reached with behavioral messaging on health, hygiene, and protection
47,203 children provided with a safe space
24,077 children received early learning and non-formal basic education
27,755 households supported to build improved shelters
50 community-based protection committees and 107 adolescent support groups formed
In recognition of its ability to play a leading role in the overall sector response, BRAC has taken a number of leadership positions within the coordinating bodies and strategic groups in Cox’s Bazar. It is also working closely with the local government and relevant ministries, adjusting its activities as necessary to align with their priorities.
For the Rohingya community, as the humanitarian response enters the next phase, BRAC aims to continue providing support that enables over 500,000 people to live their lives with security and dignity. As such, it will provide critical services at scale in the sectors where it is currently a leading provider, such as water, sanitation, health, and child protection. Recently, BRAC has initiated activities in protection, site management, shelter, and nutrition that it will strengthen and scale. Self-reliance, education, community- 1 Situation report: Rohingya Refugee Crisis, 26 April 2018based natural resource management, and governance will also become the key focus areas in 2018. Services will be available to all people, with priority given to girls, people with disabilities, and vulnerable populations.
In the host community, BRAC had large, pre-existing programs working on financial inclusion, health, water and sanitation, education, and human rights and empowerment. In response to the increased vulnerabilities experienced by local families, BRAC intensified these programs over the past few months. Several new schools, health clinics, and child-friendly spaces are already under construction. Looking ahead, it will greatly expand its focus on livelihoods, introducing its flagship graduation approach to ultrapoverty, increasing provision of financial services, and initiating skills trainings for services in high market demand. It will also adjust its social and community activities to incorporate more efforts to build empathy and social cohesion with the Rohingya community. Environmental restoration, a key priority for the local government, and disaster preparedness will also be integrated into BRAC’s community programming.
BRAC has already begun to integrate psychosocial support and gender equity across all of its interventions, and identify how service entry points can be leveraged to maximize access to other services and support. It is building in more community-based committees to foster enabling social environments and ensure its own accountability. Many sectors are also setting up specific mechanisms to continuously collect participant feedback.
BRAC’s field activities are complemented by ongoing research, partnership, advocacy and global communications. In particular, it is focusing on bringing more of the voices and perspectives of the affected community into the global dialogue, while also evaluating its programmatic approaches to enable learning and application to future events. Likely research partners include global institutions such as the London School of Economics, University of California-Berkeley, and Harvard University. In 2018, BRAC will also explore partnerships to enable greater participation of local civil society in the humanitarian response.
For its programming in March through December 2018, BRAC is seeking USD 56.4 million for its activities in Cox’s Bazar.