Bangladesh is one of the most densely populated nations with soaring levels of food poverty. With 32% of the land consisting of coastal plains, the smallest fluctuation in rainfall, or worse, a cyclone, can destroy the delicate ecosystems and increase salt levels in both land and water.

As a result, livelihoods are slowly eroded. Over half of families living in these areas experience food shortages for up to six months a year as increased salinity of cultivable land dramatically reduces crop yields. Children therefore become vulnerable to child labour and trafficking, whilst communities risk contracting water-borne diseases.

  • Over a quarter of the adult population are illiterate (UNESCO, 2016)
  • 49% of children under 5 are chronically undernourished (UNICEF, 2017)
  • 1 in 10 people have limited access to water (WHO/UNICEF, 2015)
  • 31 out of every 100 children don’t reach their 5th birthday (Asian Development Bank, 2015)

Islamic Relief in Bangladesh

Islamic Relief began working in Bangladesh in 1991, helping the victims of a tropical cyclone. Having an established office in Bangladesh has allowed us to respond with speed to numerous emergencies that have taken place since 1991, such as Cyclone Sidr in 2007, whereby Islamic Relief responded with emergency relief  including food, shelter and medical provisions and then subsequently worked on rebuilding houses and communities that were devastated by the cyclone. Due to the continual presence in Bangladesh, we now conduct multiple developmental projects across the country, from the slums of Dhaka to more of the rural areas of Sylhet.

Due to Bangladesh being prone to cyclones, Islamic Relief has pioneered on disaster risk reduction activities, reducing the potential risk to communities from a natural disaster such as a cyclone. These initiatives have included the the development of advanced early warning systems, construction of shelters; building houses on plinths, developing farming methods that do not destroy crops with excessive water as well as a variety of training sessions, including on First Aid and Rescue.

Skills and resources

Islamic micro-finance and sustainable livelihoods are other major focus areas, with projects providing poor people with the skills and resources to lift themselves out of poverty.

Our child welfare programme is also seeing significant innovations in Bangladesh, and includes a project to give working children viable and safe alternatives to hazardous labour.

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