On 16 May 2013, Tropical Storm Mahasen made landfall on the coastal regions of Bangladesh causing widespread damage between Bhola and Patuakhali districts of Barisal division. In response, the HCTT triggered a Phase I Joint Needs Assessment. The JNA found that around 1,042,340 people (around 25 percent of the total population) were affected in the three most impacted districts of Barguna, Bhola and Patuakhali.
Rapid and harmonized sector assessments, including a detailed assessment of Food Security, Livelihood and Agriculture was subsequently recommended to ensure an appropriate response. The Food Security Cluster (FSC) and the Nutrition Cluster conducted a joint Phase III assessment on food security and nutrition in the worst affected areas (Mahasen Phase III Food Security & Nutrition Assessment). Ninety six unions (of a possible 194) were identified as ‘High’ or ‘Very high’ risk in terms of food security and the assessment found 43,000 households to be in need of assistance with an emphasis on small and marginal farmers, day labourers and fishing households.
NGOs active in the regions, the majority of which with funding from ECHO, DFID and the Early Recover Facility (ERF), undertook cash transfer responses targeting food security and livelihoods. Assistance included cash for work, livelihoods or training as well as agricultural seeds and tools. In addition, some organisations provided additional short-term food only packages to approximately 6,160 households.
One year on from Mahasen, the FSC has undertaken a response gap analysis to measure the actual FSC response vs the needs identified in the Phase III assessment. Information was collated from data provided in June and September 2013 and April 2014 by member organisations and used to prepare the Mahasen response maps provided overleaf. A snap shot of the overall response reveal that:
Of the High (49) and Very High (47) unions identified in need of assistance, 53 were reached with cash and livelihood support equating to approximately 23,133 households (HH), or 54% of the identified need.
An additional 6,160 HHs were provided with short term food assistance bringing the percentage of total HHs reached to 68%1 .
In the Very High category of identified need, 61% of HHs were reached with a surplus of approximately 2,239 HH beneficiaries provided with assistance packages.
31% of HHs were reached in the High category of identified need with a surplus of approximately 1,882 HHs.
Approximately 3,227 HHs received (short-term food) assistance that were not included in the High/Very High need category.
Undertaking a response gap analysis a year on allows reflection on both the successes of the intervention and areas where improvement could be achieved. In particular, it highlights that many areas found by the Phase III assessment to be in need did not receive assistance, while other areas received assistance in surplus to the identified need; in some instances it appears that presence determined interventions rather than need. While FSC members, by and large, can be commended on the timely and coordinated assessment process, the submission of unconsolidated data significantly delayed response time and stymied the overall assistance effort. The importance of FSC members to adhere to agreed standards is therefore revealed as a major blockage in the process and should be taken as a key lesson learned.
The map provided overleaf details the overall Mahasen response effort and illustrates the remaining gaps of the response effort. The map also identifies those unions that received assistance though were not identified to be in High or Very High need according to the Phase III assessment. The final map provides a snap shot of four geographic areas where assistance provided to households exceeded the identified need.