Our work in Bangladesh

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Our work in Bangladesh

Concern has been fighting extreme poverty in Bangladesh since 1972. For over 45 years, we have worked with the most vulnerable people to reduce extreme poverty.

Where we work

In urban areas, we work with pavement dwellers, squatters and people living in underdeveloped slums ensuring improved livelihoods, health, education, social protection and Early Childhood Development services. In coastal areas, our work focuses on building the resilience of fishing and farming communities to adapt to climate change and reduce risk from disasters. In Char regions, which are especially vulnerable to climate shocks, we work with local communities and particularly women to reduce extreme poverty and promote financial inclusion.

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Responding to emergencies 

We responded to three major humanitarian emergencies in 2017: Cyclone Mora, Monsoon flooding in the North West of the country and the influx of over 700,000 Rohingya refugees who fled conflict in Myanmar. Our rapid scale-up during the refugee influx demonstrated the flexibility and agility of the organisation’s systems in coping with an unprecedented number of arrivals in a very short time. As of March 2018, we provided lifesaving humanitarian assistance to over 220,000 refugees, specifically in treating malnourished children and providing health and nutrition counselling to over 13,000 mothers.

Reducing disaster risk

We are also present on the ground long before disaster strikes, helping communities to increase their resilience and reduce risk, mitigating against the impacts of future hazards. This means that when a response is required, Concern is ready to deliver appropriate interventions, and communities are primed to receive our support in the most efficient and timely manner.

Supporting the urban poor

Concern’s urban programmes in Dhaka and Chittagong aim to address urban poverty by improving livelihoods and facilitating access to rights and entitlements for the poorest communities.

We support 12 “Pavement Dweller Centres”, providing facilities and services to more than 5,000 people and supporting them to lift themselves out of poverty by providing business grants, education support, health and childcare services. We also provide night shelter, facilitate birth registrations and national ID cards for the extreme poor who are often excluded from accessing basic health and education.

Our Improving the Lives of the Urban Extreme Poor (pavement, squatter & undeveloped slum dwellers) in Dhaka and Chittagong (ILUEP) programme delivered integrated multi sectoral services to almost 10,000 people in 2017. Through EU funds, Concern is also providing basic health and nutrition services to 878,647 extreme poor and poor people living in targeted urban slums, squatter settlements and on the pavements in Dhaka, Chittagong Cities and Mymensingh Municipality

Empowering Char communities

The Char areas are regions of Bangladesh with highly unstable land formed by river deposits. They can easily wash away in floods, and are particularly exposed to erosion and climactic shocks. The communities in these areas remain some of the most isolated and deprived in the country. The Chars remain a priority area for Concern Bangladesh as the region is marked by high proportions of people living below the lower poverty line. Our work is aimed at empowering communities to withstand their exposure to recurrent shocks and build adaptive livelihoods. Read more about our work in the Chars of Bangladesh.

Through the Char Integrated Programme, Concern is helping women like Nargis improve their income and ensure their families’ food security through livestock rearing in north-eastern Bangladesh. Photo by Concern Worldwide.

Our work in the Haors

Situated in the north-eastern part of Bangladesh, the Haor region is a unique hydro-ecological zone composed of a patchwork of wetland habitats including rivers, streams, irrigation canals and saucer shaped shallow depressions. This fertile region, much of which is below sea level, is flooded for up to six months in a year.  As extreme weather events become more frequent and severe, Haor-dwellers, especially the extreme poor, grow ever more vulnerable to losing crops, livestock and other resources.

Concern has been working with Haor communities since 1988, aiming to improve the lives and livelihoods of households living in extreme poverty. Our focus is on enabling extreme poor household move out of extreme poverty through increased work opportunities, food security, , water, sanitation and hygiene services. We also support communities to address disaster risk reduction and inequality, and access their rights and entitlements.  Providing grant support through Mobile Bank Account has proved very effective

Shopon Mia and his wife Salma Begum from Mithamoin, Kishoreganj have cultivated tomatoes as part of tested cropping patterns of the ESEP project. Photograph taken by Sadia Hossain/Concern Worldwide.

    Improving coastal resilience

    In 2017, our coastal programme advocated pro-poor policies and laws at national level to build community resilience to the effects of climate change. We supported 41,000 people to adopt new practices to protect livelihoods and reduce risk from disasters and climate change. Through cash grants and training, families were able to plant salt tolerant trees that provide both fruit and a fuel source, enabling them to reinvest capital into livestock and poultry rearing, while also protecting their homes from storms and cyclones.

    The devastation caused by Cyclone Mora in May 2017, was a tragic reminder of the extreme vulnerability of communities along the Bay of Bengal to the effects of climate change. Floods and drought as well as sea-level rise and increasing salinity in the soil and ground water are compounding existing challenges faced by coastal communities and in particular, the extreme poor.