Bangladesh is the most densely populated country in the world, as well as one of the poorest. Although the country is very fertile, it is also prone to cyclones and flooding.
Agriculture does not provide enough jobs with 75% of the population living in the countryside. The average annual income is only $380, and malnutrition and illiteracy are widespread.
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.
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.