As well as threatening lives and homes, cyclones can wipe out people’s incomes. And with no way of earning money, those affected will struggle to rebuild their lives after the wind and waves die away.
That’s why protecting incomes – and even finding new ways of making a living – are key parts of a Bangladesh Red Crescent programme helping about 60,000 people prepare from and recover from cyclones.
The four-year programme in the coastal districts of Barguna and Patuakhali is supported by the British Red Cross. As well as livelihoods assisstance it is giving communities cleaner, safer water and helping them plan for future disasters.
New ways of farming
Cyclones flood the ground with salt water – even in areas that are miles from the ocean. This makes the land less fertile, and so harder to grow crops in. Some cyclone-affected areas that used to produce two harvests a year now only produce one.
The Bangladesh Red Crescent is working with the country’s government to teach farmers how to buy and use saline-resistant seeds, which are better suited to salty ground.
Helping women boost their income, or earn for the first time
The programme is also helping families find new ways to make money. Most women in the area are housewives, and in the past have not had the chance to earn an income themselves.
But cash grants and training are helping many women keep home gardens, using small pieces of land to grow vegetables. These vegetable can be eaten by families, improving diets and tackling nutrition problems, or sold for profit. A second source of money gives families a vital safety net.
Getting a better price
As well as growing vegetables, people in Barguna and Patuakhali can make money through work including crop-growing and fishing. But as most people cannot get to markets themselves, they are often forced to sell their products to middlemen at low prices. Debts might also force them to make a quick sale. But the programme is giving communities support to get a fair price for their goods.
New producer groups will help people come together to share information and equipment. The groups’ bargaining power will make it easier and cheaper for their members to hire tools, transport goods and make sales.
- How is the programme bringing people clean water?