The per capita income of the underprivileged people living in the haor areas has risen by 9 percent as a result of the work done by BRAC Integrated Development Programme. In addition to that, the rate of men and women, aged between 16 and 65, who became self-employed also increased by 10 percent and 6 percent respectively. Aside from that, spending by women in areas like health, child education, savings, purchasing land grew 14 percent when compared to the past.
These information were revealed at a workshop held in BRAC Centre titled “BRAC’s Operations in Haor and Flash Floods” today, Wednesday (November 1, 2017). The chief guest at the event, organised by BRAC Integrated Development Programme (IDP), was the Minister of Water Resources Anisul Islam Mahmud, MP. The discussion was led by BRAC’s Executive Director, Dr Muhammad Musa, where other key participants included the Head of Co-Operations from Danish International Development Agency (DANIDA) Peter Bogh Jensen, First Secretary (Development Results and Evaluations) of Department for International Development (DfID) Bangladesh Yousuf Rafique, Director of Research and Evaluation Division at BRAC Professor Abdul Bayes and Director of IDP, Community Empowerment Programme and Gender Justice & Diversity Anna Minj. There were also several representatives from the government, humanitarian organisations, donor agencies and think tanks among others.
BRAC commenced its Integrated Development Programme back in 2013 to improve the living conditions of disadvantaged dwellers of haor region and indigenous population in the North West. Before that BRAC had started a primary survey in 2012 of 7,783 households across 16 upazilla, which came to an end in April 2016.
Key findings of the report on “A New Approach to Reducing Poverty and Vulnerability: Evidence from BRAC’s Integrated Development Programme” was presented by Jinnat Ara, Research Fellow for the Development Economics Unit at BRAC Research and Evaluation Division. The findings revealed that 5,183 households out of 7,783 were beneficiaries of BRAC’s Integrated Development Programme. Furthermore, the rate at which programme beneficiaries were accessing hygienic latrine facilities and formal healthcare services increased by 77 percent and 50 percent respectively. 63 percent of the beneficiaries had food security, while that rate was lower at 46 percent for those who were yet to fall under the umbrella. Women under the programme boasted a self-employment rate of 95.2 percent, while for men that rate was at 71.2 percent.
Another research was conducted among 1,845 households in 70 villages at 31 Unions across recently flooded areas of Moulvibazar, Sunamganj, Sylhet, Habiganj, Netrokona and Kishoreganj. As highlighted in the presentation on “Flash Flood 2017: Perspective in Haor Areas” by Dr Nepal C. Dey, despite almost 52 percent of the residents in haor areas being involved in crop farming, the number has significantly decreased to 13 percent as a result of flash floods. During the same time period the number of people getting involved in fish farming rose to around 24 percent, which is the highest compared to any previous year. Due to excessive flooding, nearly 21 percent of the people were forced to remain without an income source.
One out of every three households that participated in the survey were consuming two meals a day instead of the standard three. They were consuming 53 percent less food and 16 percent less nutritious content due to the scarcity. At the same time, one out of every three households were suffering from food shortage. It is being predicted through the research that a loss of BDT 2,918 crores were incurred from crops, poultry, dairy products and day labor in the surveyed areas. One of the many recommendations made at the workshop emphasised on improved water drainage systems and excavation to channel currently overflowing water. These systems include improving dam renovation, timely maintenance, proper monitoring, stronger relationship between government and non-government bodies, encouraging farmers to adopt faster yielding BRRI 81 as well as 28 varieties of rice, and creating alternative employment opportunities among others.
Anisul Islam Mahmud stated during the event, “These flash floods have been triggered by the overflowing of the waters in Brahmaputra and Meghna as a result of rapid climate change. The effects are not limited to the haor areas but nationwide. This is a significant barrier to our sustainable development goals.”
Peter Jensen said, “BRAC’s integrated approach is a practical solution to the current situation in the haor areas. We are enthusiastic to be a part of this initiative.”
Dr Muhammad Musa stated, “The recent floods have not only affected the crops but also the flow of life for many. This is why we are placing an importance on planning our integrated programme for the long run.”
It is important to note that BRAC’s Integrated Development Programme is providing involved in the areas of health, nutrition, population, education, community empowerment, human rights and legal services, safe migration, gender equality, safe water and sanitation, targeting the ultra-poor, micro finance and agriculture & food security as part of its interventions.