In Pictures: Helping people to rebuild from the devastation of the last flood in Lalmonirhat

March 05, 2019

The mega flood in 2017 was one of the biggest that Bangladesh have witnessed in decades and it shattered the lives and livelihood of thousands of people across 32 districts of the country. Bangladesh Red Crescent Society, with the support of International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies, carried out emergency response activities immediately after the disaster, although some severely affected villages and families remained vulnerable. For these families, there is an urgent need for additional humanitarian assistance, and Bangladesh Red Crescent is working to mitigate their sufferings.

Fency Begum, lives in Dokkhin Balapara, Lalmonirhat, whose house was severely affected during the flood as it is situated very close to the river Tista. Fency is one of those affected villagers who received cash grant and corrugated iron sheets from Bangladesh Red Crescent Society to reconstruct their house. She used her learnings she received from the participatory approach for safe shelter awareness sessions to construct her house. And her house is considered as one of the model houses which help other villagers in building flood resilient houses. “The last flood was strange. The water level kept on rising and going down. We had to stay out of the house for weeks. Now I have a better house and hope that the next flood will have a lighter impact on us”, she says.

Flooding is a recurrent scenario in Bangladesh, especially in the northern part. Providing knowledge on how to build strong house and latrine, how to stay prepared for future disasters is as important as recovering from previous disasters. Bangladesh Red Crescent staff and volunteers facilitated participatory safe shelter awareness sessions among the villagers in Lalmonirhat to increase awareness and knowledge on safe shelter.

These community volunteers are always there to go door to door to the affected families and share knowledge and receive feedback. Bangladesh Red Crescent Society has 55 community volunteers in Lalmonirhat district who provide support to the people tirelessly. “I enjoy this work very much and never feel tired”, says one of the volunteers.

Bangladesh Red Crescent Society is providing cash grant and corrugated iron sheets to 656 affected families. Each family will receive up to 22 pieces of iron sheets and 75,000 taka. They will use the cash grant and iron sheets for house and latrine reconstruction. Besides, People can also restore their livelihood by buying livestock or starting small businesses with the cash grant. These people will also receive training on safe shelter, hygiene, livelihood and disaster risk reduction. 

While constructing house and latrine, it is important to use strong materials, make the base considerably high, keep proper ventilation system etc. to make them safe and disaster resilient. This is an example of what Bangladesh Red Crescent Society is promoting among the community people to build.

The members of the Community Development Committee (CDC) meet regularly to discuss different agendas related to the betterment of the community people. This committee is formed with people from the affected community and this gives power to the people in decision making. They talk about their own problems and try to find the best solution.

Author: Sajid Hasan, IFRC

Photos: Sajid Hasan and Sharif Khan