Coping with Disasters
Bangladesh is a deltaic region, intersected by around 700 rivers of which the Padma, Meghna, and Jamuna are the most significant. These rivers have influenced the economy, geography, culture and civilization of the region for thousands of years, creating what may be termed as an eternal bond between human and rivers. The rivers of Bangladesh are the lifeblood of the nations economy particularly agriculture, fisheries and transport. These rivers, however, are also considered among the most unstable and destructive in the world. Sudden and dramatic shifts in river courses cause recurrent riverbank erosion. Every year, over one million people are affected by riverbank erosion that damage their crops, kill their livestock and destroy their homes. During floods, overflow of river waters create huge loses and sufferings. Livelihoods are washed away, uprooting people from the areas where they have been living for centuries leaving them in poverty. These socially and economically dislocated and marginalised river-victims often have to take shelter where livelihood opportunities and basic services, such as water, sanitation, health and education are minimal or non-existent. Resettlement and restoring the livelihoods of displaced communities have been a long development discourse; and appropriate and integrated interventions what are crucially required. Gaibandha, located in the North-West of Bangladesh at the meeting point of the rivers Tista and Brahmaputra, is one of the most erosion-prone areas. Through its award-winning `Disappearing lands: supporting communities affected by river erosion’ project, Practical Action Bangladesh helped 20,000 poor families victimised by riverbank erosion. A number of innovative initiatives were undertaken in the course of the project, both in terms of infrastructure development and of the livelihood alternatives which successfully contributed in improving the incomes and well being of thousands of poor women and men. It is also likely that millions of others who live on the edge of the major rivers in Bangladesh will benefit from interventions and policy changes in the areas of livelihood diversification, disaster management, housing infrastructure, climate change adaptation and food security, to which this project made some important contribution. This book contains series of photographs with short notes depicting some project interventions. These photos were taken by the staff-members of the project throughout the project course, both from Practical Action and partner organisations who genuinely worked hard in making the project a great success. We would like to thank Big Lottery Fund of UK for its generous financial support to the project. We also thank UK-based trusts and individuals including Galanthus, Gemini, PJK, Stemcor Ltd. South Hall, and BP Glasser for their generous support to the project. Finally, our sincere thanks also go to the government and non-government entities, including our partners for their valuable contribution to the project.
Veena Khaleque Country Director Practical Action Bangladesh
Published in March 2010. Published by Practical Action Bangladesh, House 12B, Road 4, Dhanmondi, Dhaka-1205. Phone: 8650439, 9675236, 9675243, Fax: 9674340, E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
About Practical Action
“Find out what they are doing and help them to do it better. Study their needs and help them to help themselves.”
P ractical Action (former Intermediate Technology Development Group-ITDG) was founded by eminent economist and philosopher Ernst Fritz Schumacher in 1966. It started with a small group of dedicated people, deeply inspired and influenced by the powerful and convincing ideas of Schumacher. His philosophy and ideals, published more than four decades ago, criticised and challenged western ideals of the pursuit for wealth and material progress. According to his views, the rapid scientific and technological progress of the west has resulted in wealth differentials, waste of resources, environmental pollution and degradation. He first proposed the idea of intermediate technology or "technology with a more human face" as an alternative to solve the problems faced by people today. Schumacher appealed for appropriate methods and techniques that are affordable and accessible to everyone, compatible, with nature and human creativity at the same time using indigenous knowledge, local labour and resources. His philosophy “Small is Beautiful” highly emphasized a view to remind people that the universal acceptance of gigantism and large scalism, needed to be counter balanced by small and effective ways of working and producing. Stimulated by these values and thinking, Practical Action has been working towards reducing poverty in developing countries through offices in Bangladesh, Nepal, Sri Lanka, Kenya, Sudan, Zimbabwe and Peru.
Practical Action envisions a world free of poverty and injustice in which technology is used to the benefit of all.
Practical Action aims to help eradicate poverty in developing countries by developing and using technology, and by demonstrating results, sharing knowledge and influencing others.
Practical Action's programmes are established in four broader areas known as Aims. They are:
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Reducing vulnerability and natural resource management: with the objectives to strengthen the ability of poor people to use technology to cope with threats from natural disasters, environmental degradation and civil conflict.
Making markets work for poor: to enable poor people to use technologies to build secure livelihoods, through improved systems of production, processing and marketing.
Improving access to useful services, systems and structures: to improve the access of poor women and men to locally managed infrastructure services.
Responding to new technology: to enable poor people to assess and respond to the challenges of new technologies and to develop and adopt applications that improve their livelihoods.
Practical Action in Bangladesh
Practical Action started working in Bangladesh in the early 1980s in response to request from a number of prominent national NGOs. In 1990, the Bangladesh Country Office was formally established with its head office in Dhaka. From 1997, Practical Action began directly implementing programmes initially in five neighbouring district of greater Faridpur. Additionally, the organisation started working with partner NGOs in other parts of the country. Practical Action works with vulnerable poor women and men directly, and indirectly through local intermediary organisations providing with technical support, inputs or services to poor communities.
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