Since 25 August 2017, human rights violations and targeted violence1 against the Rohingya community in Rakhine State, Myanmar, have forced over 728,0002 of them to seek sanctuary in Bangladesh. Half of the refugees (55%) are children. Within two months of the first arrivals, the number of refugee population in Cox’s Bazar district quadrupled, which made it the fastest growing refugee crisis in the world. The refugees continued to arrive by foot and boat in subsequent months. Most of them came with few belongings or cash.
UNHCR was among the first humanitarian organisations to respond to the refugee influx with life-saving assistance. Packages of blankets, plastic sheets, sleeping mats, family tents, plastic rolls, kitchen sets, jerry cans and buckets were distributed initially to 250,000 refugees within weeks after their arrival.
By end of August 2018, UNHCR distributed 93,803 Core Relief Item (CRI) packages to newly arrived refugee families, each containing tarpaulins, kitchen set, blanket, jerry can, bucket, sleeping mat and solar lamp. At the same time, 90,524 families received Upgrade Shelter Kit (USK) consisting of mulli and borak bamboos3, rope, plastic tarpaulins, sandbags and toolkits, to reinforce their shelters for the monsoon season. UNHCR, in close collaboration with partner agencies and other humanitarian actors, continues to support the Government of Bangladesh in responding to the refugee crisis by ensuring relief items are prepositioned and delivered to the most vulnerable refugees and host communities in a timely manner.
Objectives of Post Distribution Monitoring (PDM)
UNHCR uses Post Distribution Monitoring (PDM) as a mechanism to collect refugee’s feedback on the quality, sufficiency, utilisation and effectiveness of assistance received. It is conducted after the distribution of relief items is completed. The first PDM on Non-Food Item (NFI) was done in March 2018 covering the period since the beginning of the refugee influx in August 2017. The outcome of the PDM exercise was used to inform the procurement efforts as well as subsequent NFI distribution which was monitored through the second exercise conducted in August 2018, or a year after the influx. A total of 2,298 households who received NFIs from UNHCR took part in this PDM exercise.
The second PDM exercise includes distribution of six types of NFI packages by UNHCR and partners to Rohingya refugees from April to August 2018. These are Compressed Rice Husk (CRH)4, Core Relief Item (CRI)5, USK6, Tie-Down Kit (TDK)7, 8, WASH Hygiene Kit9 and Female Hygiene Kit10. It does not include, but coincides with, the pilot distribution of Liquefied Petroleum Gas (LPG) and cooking sets to refugees in August 2018 as a joint effort with other humanitarian organisations to stop deforestation.
UNHCR has been distributing CRH briquettes since November 2017 as a cleaner cooking alternative to reduce the needs for firewood. Eligible refugee families receive 19 kg of briquettes a month. However, the amounts supplied only meet 30% of the daily needs of 80,000 families. This is due to limited production capacity of all local CRH suppliers which can only cover the said percentage of needs of the refugee settlements. Since May 2018, UNHCR started to procure larger quantities of CRH briquettes (38 kg) to families of seven members and above11. A report reviewing clean cooking options for refugees in Cox’s Bazar stated that the CRH producers had not been able to deliver the quantities they claimed due to further restrictions caused by the seasonality of biomass12.