Escaping poverty in Bangladesh’s coastal belt

“My family suffered a lot as I didn’t have an income,” said Laila Begum, who participated in an Islamic Relief livelihood support project that comes to an end this month. “But, Islamic Relief helped me to buy a cow through which I can accumulate capital to lead a respectable life in future.”

Laila and her family were one of 8,787 families in Chittagong, Bangladesh, to benefit from one of Islamic Relief’s livelihood projects.

A number of coastal sub-districts in Chittagong were badly affected by floods, river erosion and salinity last year. Several hundred-thousand families lost their crops and struggled to earn a living through activities upon which they previously relied – such as livestock rearing, homestead gardening, and fishing.

The scheme – which started on January 2013 – saw the area’s most vulnerable poor families receive cash grants, training and support to build small businesses.

Families were identified through rigorous consultation with the community, local government and civil society organisations.  Orientation on livestock rearing, homestead gardening and fishing was supported by a cash-grant of BDT.10, 000 ($125). Islamic Relief also established links with the local supply chain as well as service providers.

“Islamic Relief set a glaring example of transparency and participatory approaches in implementing the development project,” said Mosad Hossain Chowdhury, the elected representative of Sadaha, Satkania.

Shabbir Iqbal, the local administrator of Banshkhali, a severely affected sub-district said: “Islamic Relief’s effort to help ultra-poor people to get out of poverty was a much appreciated initiative.”

The DfID funded project contributed to the recovery of food security and livelihoods of vulnerable families in Bangladesh’s south-eastern coastal belt.

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