Bangladesh: Working To Enhance Resilience to Natural Disasters and Climate Change
As a first step, WFP approaches ultra-poor men and women to identify community assets that they regard as the most useful to increase their resilience to natural disasters and the effects of climate change. Possible projects include the construction or repair of canals, ponds, roads, and embankments.
Then, WFP works in close partnership with the Government of Bangladesh and local NGOs to implement the projects, such as the canal re-excavation in Gaibandha depicted here. With the generous support from Brazil, Japan and LG Electronics, over 80,000 participants and their families benefited from the programme in 2011-2012. The continued support from Japan and LG Electronics as well as additional funding from the Kingdom of the Netherlands and the Republic of Korea made it possible for WFP to start a new programme cycle reaching the same amount of participants in 2013.
More than 70 percent of programme participants are women, who are more vulnerable to the effects of climate change because they are not free to travel or migrate for work like the men in their communities. There is consistent evidence that cash transfers to women lead to increased household and family welfare, food security and dietary diversity.
Participants receive food and cash in exchange for their labor in building community assets during the dry season and for participating in training during the wet season. WFP distributes rice, pulses and vegetable oil that help ensure participants and their families meet their daily food and nutrition needs. The Government of Bangladesh provides the equivalent amount in cash wages.
Training sessions are scheduled during the monsoon season, when work is made difficult by heavy rains. Participants learn about disaster risk reduction, climate change adaptation and survival during crisis.
In the trainings, participants also learn about the importance of nutrition and better hygiene habits – such as washing hands with soap before eating, and cutting vegetables only after they are washed to minimize nutrient loss – to help them improve the state of their family’s nutrition.
In the third year of the programme cycle, female labourers and wives of male labourers participate in business development trainings which prepare them to receive a cash grant for investment – thus strengthening their families’ economic resilience. In 2013, approximately 17,200 women will receive such a grant to be invested in income generating activities such as livestock rearing, agricultural crop production or small-scale business ventures. For twelve months, they will also receive a monthly cash allowance to cushion their family economy while they focus on their investment.
Bangladesh is at high risk from weather-induced shocks and the longer-term effects of climate change. Cyclones, flooding, droughts, salt water intrusion and river erosion are expected to increase over the coming years. Shocks often force the poorest families, especially those that depend on the income of a woman, to reduce meals, withdraw children from school in order for them to work, or employ other high-risk strategies that ultimately perpetuate the poverty cycle. Take a look at how WFP works with ultra-poor families to enhance their resilience to natural disasters and the effects of climate change.