From poverty to potential
Bangladesh is one of the world’s most densely-populated countries. Its people live among a delta of rivers that empty into the Bay of Bengal.
In recent years, a reduction in population growth and improved health and education has helped ease some of the country’s extreme poverty. But the gap between rich and poor continues to widen, and Bangladesh’s geography makes its people increasingly vulnerable to disasters and rising sea levels.
We work in both rural and urban areas in Bangladesh. Our HQ is in the country’s capital, Dhaka.
Our work includes improvements to farming practices that help the poorest farmers thrive in the most challenging conditions, and collaboration at local and national levels to transform the lives of people in city slums and refugee camps.
We take a holistic approach to our work in Bangladesh. We implement Practical Action projects alongside the contracts we carry out as Practical Action Consulting.
More than 80% of Bangladesh’s population is exposed to floods, earthquakes and droughts, and more than 70% to cyclones. Urgent adaptation is needed.
Cities fit for people
Over 20% of people living in Bangladesh’s cities live below the poverty line. Those living in slums and temporary refugee communities are the hardest hit. We’re working with partners and local governments to demonstrate best practice and develop solutions for clean water and waste management. Read more…
A significant proportion of families in Bangladesh live in makeshift shelters that fall apart during the monsoon season and have no regular electricity. They have limited access to health care and to clean drinking water. For the people of the Rohingya community living in the Cox’s Bazar refugee camps and those living in the overcrowded slums of Dhaka, the lack of facilities is life threatening. It’s these communities – the most vulnerable and marginalised – that we’re focusing on.
With inadequate sewage systems, dealing with human waste is one of the biggest challenges. We’ve devised portable faecal sludge management units made of steel with waterproof protection at the camps in the Ukhyia area of Cox’s Bazar. The need for these systems to be waterproof is to safeguard against contamination in flood situations. The units uses a simple filtration system and results in safe sanitisation of waste. This stops the spread of sickness and disease and keeps families healthy.
In the urban slums, our teamwork with local authorities secured fairer pay and better working conditions for the informal waste workers who empty the city’s toilet pits. And we equipped those same authorities with a handbook for an integrated planning approach to make our solutions sustainable.
We work with the Government and city authorities to ensure that poor people are included in sanitation planning. The Government of Bangladesh has approved the Institutional and Regulatory Framework for Faecal Sludge Management and asked us and our partners to develop a plan to put it into practice.
Farming that works
Thanks to our work with communities in Bangladesh, the lives of 50,000 landless farmers have been transformed by turning barren land into productive pumpkin fields. And it’s the most vulnerable people in the poorest areas who are benefitting most. Our work has been so successful it’s got the attention of the Government of Bangladesh and the UN. Read more…
Every year, families here go hungry and lose their homes and livelihoods as devastating monsoon rains destroy houses and crops. The changing climate means these floods are more damaging every year. As the flood waters recede, huge sandbanks emerge in the middle of the rivers.
People used to think these sand banks were barren and unusable. Now, thanks to a combination of carefully chosen seeds, innovative farming techniques and training, they’re producing a bountiful crop of pumpkins. These vegetables are a nutritious addition to families’ diets, and they have enough left over to sell locally.
With the extra income families earn, they can send their children to school, buy livestock and create a more secure future. We’re reinforcing the impact of our work by training new mums, parents and the elderly, to improve nutrition even more. And we’re helping farmers to gain tenure of temporary sand bars and introduce them to new markets where they can sell their pumpkins.
The project has won two UN awards for innovation after transforming food production in the face of flooding and land loss in Bangladesh. Our approach to increasing the harvests of farms on sandbars has been included in the Bangladesh National Agriculture Policy 2018. The Ministry of Agriculture wants to replicate this model throughout the country, helping tens of thousands more people overcome hunger and increase their income.
Resilience that protects
Bangladesh is a country that’s extremely vulnerable to both climate change and disasters. The country’s flat, low-lying geography, combined with its extreme climate and dense population, make it susceptible to floods, droughts, cyclones and earthquakes. We’re helping communities face these challenges head on by building resilience into the lives and livelihoods of the most vulnerable. Read more…
We’re working to improve the resilience of 60,000 households in Sirajganj and Bogra. Part of Zurich Insurance Group’s global flood resilience programme, the project has already benefitted 3,000 flood-vulnerable households. We’re using weather forecasting, flood early warnings and technological innovations, as well as improving disaster governance.
Last year our local partners sent text messages to 56,000 people, left 124,000 voice messages and installed 56 digital message boards.
A major partner in this work is local government. We’re working with them to improve their vulnerability assessment and planning processes and help them connect more effectively with communities. This goes hand-in-hand with establishing innovative weather forecast and advisory services based on existing public systems.
Over the coming years, we’ll be focusing our resilience work on connecting local organisations with national funds, putting the people most vulnerable to disasters in charge of the solution. And we’ll continue to develop the monitoring systems and forecasting that will strengthen Bangladesh’s disaster preparedness and climate resilience.
Energy that transforms
Everyone should have access to clean, affordable electricity and be able to cook food without damaging the health of their family and the environment. Yet in rural areas of Bangladesh, many families still have to cut down trees to use as fuel for heating and cooking. It’s a challenge we’re tackling head on with tried and tested solutions and powerful collaborations. Read more…
People living in extreme poverty can’t lift themselves out of it unless they have reliable energy sources. These communities are also the least able to adapt to the devastating consequences that climate change is having in Bangladesh. We’re working with the Household Energy Platform, a national programme, to put a country-wide action plan in place that will distribute clean cook stoves to those who need them most.
We’re also supporting entrepreneurs, many of them women, to set up new businesses that support our projects. These include making and selling clean cook stoves and clean fuel briquettes. We’re helping these entrepreneurs get hold of funding to kick-start their new businesses and giving them training in basic business skills, such as budgeting and marketing. In this way, our work is helping advance the local economy, as well as benefiting individuals and the environment.
We know these solutions work. We’ve implemented them before in Bangladesh and in other countries around the word. In the next two years, we’ll work with local partners and co-operatives to provide 5,000 clean cooking stoves to 60 villages in rural Bangladesh. And we’ll share our learning and skills with the country’s Government and local partners to spread our impact even further.
We received the 2019 UNIDO Award for Innovative Ideas and Technologies in Agribusiness in the Climate Change category for our sandbar cropping work. This innovative farming approach transforms barren sandbanks into highly productive farmland so that people can feed their families and earn an income.
We also received the Collaboration Award in the 2019 Development Awards from BOND, the UK network for organisations working in international development. This recognised the breadth and depth of our collaboration with communities, local and national government, companies and international bodies as we worked together to improve the management of human waste in Bangladesh. The lessons we learned are now being shared around the world.
Funding partners for our work in Bangladesh include:
- European Union
- Netherlands Enterprise Agency
- United Nations International Children’s Emergency Fund
- Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation
- International Organisation for Migration
- Asian Development Bank
- Maxwell Stuart Charitable Trust
New skills mean that 50,000 people in Bangladesh, who have no land of their own, can grow up to 600 pumpkins a year. With the extra income they earn, they can send their children to school, buy livestock and become more resilient to the monsoon climate.View the Project
Postal address: Practical Action, GPO Box 3881, Dhaka, Bangladesh
Street address: House 28/A, Road 5, Dhanmondi, Dhaka – 1205, Bangladesh
Telephone: +88 02 9672683
+88 02 9675236
Fax:: +88 02 9674340
e-mail: [email protected]