Bangladesh

Food Security Follow-up Assessment - Flooding in North Western Bangladesh, April 2013

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Summary

This report outlines the results of a follow-up food security assessment conducted in Bogra, Gaibandah, Jamalpur,
Kurigram and Sirajgonj districts of North West Bangladesh in April 2013. The purpose of this assessment was to review the recovery situation and determine any remaining needs of vulnerable households who were affected by the September 2012 floods.

The assessment was conducted in 26 unions of ten upazilas over approximately five days. Purposive sampling was used to choose vulnerable flood affected households from the same locations assessed in the rapid food security joint needs assessment (JNA) conducted in October 2012. Similar indicators were measured to those assessed in the October JNA in order to compare recovery status and determine remaining needs. The results of the assessment are detailed in this report however key findings may be summarized as follows:

It is estimated that around 74,000 households across the five districts assessed have not fully recovered since the September 2012 flood and are still in need of assistance to restore livelihoods and food security.

The poverty map1 enclosed shows that Kurigram and Jamalpur districts are ranked in the poorest areas of the country (where more than 60% of the population are under the poverty line) with Gaibandha and Sirajgonj close behind (between 50% and 60%). This indicates existing structural poverty in the assessment areas and a comparatively lower capacity to recover after shocks. Therefore not all indicators can be completely attributed to the effects of the floods, however the report provides a good point of measurement of the recovery status of households directly after the floods to six months after the flood by comparing indicators.

The floods damaged aman crops back in September 2012 and impacted the ability of farmers to cultivate other crops due to lack of access to inputs or lack of money to invest. Around 55% of farmers across all districts were able to resume Boro production with the worst affected areas in Kurigram and Gaibandah. All districts expect poor Boro prospects (particularly Gaibandah and Kurigram) due mostly to the effects of cold wave on crops. Jamalpur and Bogra had good Boro resumption (93% and 80%) which should have provided good income earning opportunities for agricultural day labourers – this is evidenced by only a 2% migration rate out of Bogra and increased average monthly income in Jan-March 2013. Jamalpur however still maintained high migration (50%) and only limited increases in monthly income. It is likely that despite good Boro resumption, the high loan repayments, high food cost and low IGA resumption have pushed Jamalpur households into further stress.
Vegetable production recovery was steadily over 50% for most districts except Kurigram and Bogra. These two districts, along with Gaibandah, also had poor fish farming resumption. Sirajgonj had stable recovery of over 50% in Boro, vegetable and fish production.

During this assessment, the Food Consumption Score (FCS) was used to compare the diet of the population and provide an indication of the expense gap required to achieve a good FCS. Over the five districts, more than 60% of the population is within or below the borderline range with a diet essentially based on rice. Gaibandah, Bogra and Kurigram had the highest proportion of populations within the critical range; the largest being in Gaibandha (41%). The expense gap to reach a good FCS was also highest in Gaibandah and Sirajgonj. Bogra had the greatest proportion of the population below acceptable (95%) followed by Gaibandah (81%) and Jamalpur (59%). All districts except Sirajgonj do not eat the minimum meal frequency and 30% of children aged 6-23 months assessed also do not. 91% of children surveyed aged 6-23 months do not have adequate dietary diversity, eating less than four food groups per day.
Exclusive breastfeeding for children 0-6 months and introduction to solid and semi-solid foods for children 6-8 months is below the national average and although the global acute malnutrition rate across the five districts is high (14.4%) it is in line with the national average. Considering these indicators it is clear that these locations have existing pockets of vulnerability. To deal with floods many households reduced meal size, meal frequency and changed infant feeding practices which suggests limited alternate coping mechanisms.

Many households had to sell their assets and use savings after the floods. Jamalpur, Kurigram and Gaibandah had the highest percent of households doing so both directly after the floods and still in the last three months. It is the same for using savings to meet basic needs. While Sirajgonj and Bogra households do deplete savings and sell assets it is significantly less than the other districts suggesting a greater coping capacity. All households took loans directly after floods but this was highest in Jamalpur, Gaibandah and Bogra. While this practice has reduced in the last three months, all district households continue to take out loans. Loan repayment costs are greatest in Jamalpur (1311 BDT/month),
Sirajgonj (888 BDT/ month) and Gaibandah (784 BDT/ month). It is likely that these households sold IGA related assets initially after the flood to cover basic expenses and this may explain delayed resumption of IGAs. Approximately under half of the households in Jamalpur, Gaibandah and Kurigram were able to re-launch their IGAs. Sirajgonj and Bogra households fared well as 97% and 80% re-started IGAs after floods. It is also likely that loans taken in the last three months have been used to help re-launch IGAs because with depleted savings and assets, loans may be needed to cover the significant investment costs required for IGA resumption (i.e. homestead gardening 259 BDT, poultry rearing 383 BDT and livestock rearing 4502 BDT as per household survey results).

It is clear that households lost income and work opportunities from the impact of the floods on crops. The expected decrease in harvest and work opportunities related to the cold wave and hartals will further reduce household income and therefore food purchasing capacity and subsequently food security. Exposure to repeated shocks including floods, cold wave and political unrest continues to hamper the recovery capacity of vulnerable households and risks of further stresses as the monsoon season approaches will likely push households into further poverty.

population is within or below the borderline range with a diet essentially based on rice. Gaibandah, Bogra and Kurigram had the highest proportion of populations within the critical range; the largest being in Gaibandha (41%). The expense gap to reach a good FCS was also highest in Gaibandah and Sirajgonj. Bogra had the greatest proportion of the population below acceptable (95%) followed by Gaibandah (81%) and Jamalpur (59%). All districts except Sirajgonj do not eat the minimum meal frequency and 30% of children aged 6-23 months assessed also do not. 91% of children surveyed aged 6-23 months do not have adequate dietary diversity, eating less than four food groups per day.
Exclusive breastfeeding for children 0-6 months and introduction to solid and semi-solid foods for children 6-8 months is below the national average and although the global acute malnutrition rate across the five districts is high (14.4%) it is in line with the national average. Considering these indicators it is clear that these locations have existing pockets of vulnerability. To deal with floods many households reduced meal size, meal frequency and changed infant feeding practices which suggests limited alternate coping mechanisms.

Many households had to sell their assets and use savings after the floods. Jamalpur, Kurigram and Gaibandah had the highest percent of households doing so both directly after the floods and still in the last three months. It is the same for using savings to meet basic needs. While Sirajgonj and Bogra households do deplete savings and sell assets it is significantly less than the other districts suggesting a greater coping capacity. All households took loans directly after floods but this was highest in Jamalpur, Gaibandah and Bogra. While this practice has reduced in the last three months, all district households continue to take out loans. Loan repayment costs are greatest in Jamalpur (1311 BDT/month),
Sirajgonj (888 BDT/ month) and Gaibandah (784 BDT/ month). It is likely that these households sold IGA related assets initially after the flood to cover basic expenses and this may explain delayed resumption of IGAs. Approximately under half of the households in Jamalpur, Gaibandah and Kurigram were able to re-launch their IGAs. Sirajgonj and Bogra households fared well as 97% and 80% re-started IGAs after floods. It is also likely that loans taken in the last three months have been used to help re-launch IGAs because with depleted savings and assets, loans may be needed to cover the significant investment costs required for IGA resumption (i.e. homestead gardening 259 BDT, poultry rearing 383 BDT and livestock rearing 4502 BDT as per household survey results).

It is clear that households lost income and work opportunities from the impact of the floods on crops. The expected decrease in harvest and work opportunities related to the cold wave and hartals will further reduce household income and therefore food purchasing capacity and subsequently food security. Exposure to repeated shocks including floods, cold wave and political unrest continues to hamper the recovery capacity of vulnerable households and risks of further stresses as the monsoon season approaches will likely push households into further poverty.