Urgent Support Needed as Thousands of Cox’s Bazar Community Members Lose Livelihoods

IOM

– The International Organization for Migration (IOM) is concerned about the over 80,000 community members in Ukhiya and Teknaf sub-districts in Cox’s Bazar who have lost their income and possessions to the devastating floods that have swept the city since 27 July.

Close to 2,500 vegetable gardens have been partially or fully damaged, and 140 trees have been knocked down, raising concerns about soil erosion and further landslides caused by what residents describe as the heaviest rainfall in more than ten years.

“The COVID-19 pandemic and ongoing lockdown have already left millions of people across the country unemployed and struggling to make ends meet,” said Manuel Marques Pereira, IOM Deputy Chief of Mission in Bangladesh.

“Many had managed to recover through different livelihood opportunities offered by the humanitarian community but are now forced to start again from zero.”

Mostafa Khatun, a widow, has been the breadwinner in her family for years. In 2020, she received a cash grant from IOM and attended a training on vegetable cultivation and poultry farming. She used the grant to buy the necessary materials to start her business and has since been relying on it for her monthly income.

“I lost my vegetable garden in the floods, as well as 10 hens and my shelter,” Mostafa said. “I am currently sleeping in my neighbour’s goat shed. I don’t know where to go from here.”

The rapid urbanization of both Teknaf and Ukhiya sub-districts may have led to the obstruction of the natural drainage system, causing rainwater to accumulate rapidly leading to flash floods.

IOM has been supporting local Cyclone Preparedness Programme volunteers to disseminate early warning messages on landslides and evacuation since the monsoon rains began, reaching over 175,000 people living in 244 vulnerable areas across Cox’s Bazar District.

The local administration quickly opened the cyclone shelters where thousands of displaced families have since taken refuge. They are currently being assisted with relief items, protection and medical support.

IOM’s livelihoods programme provides host community members with different types of income-generating activities. Since 2017, close to 11,000 host community members have accessed livelihood opportunities, and more than 6,000 Rohingya refugees have received self-reliance services.

Many community members have now lost all their livelihoods and assets in the floods, including livestock, fisheries and crops, and are in need of immediate recovery support. Over 3,000 people who received livelihoods support face thousands of dollars in losses.

Many people said they drastically reduced the quality and quantity of their daily meals, used their savings or credit to purchase food, or became entirely dependent on external support in order to survive since the rains began.

IOM assessment teams conducted an emergency needs assessment in Teknaf to better understand the immediate and midterm impact of the floods on the lives and livelihoods of host communities.

The assessment highlighted the immediate need to rebuild damaged houses, latrines, bathing sheds and roads in the affected villages, and the need for multipurpose cash grants to recover people’s belongings.

Urgent support is required to help host community members affected by the floods, as well as for the refugees currently residing in camps in Cox’s Bazar. Download the IOM Bangladesh 2021 Appeal here.

The Disaster Risk Reduction support for host communities such as the Cyclone Preparedness Programme and rehabilitation of cyclone shelters, and part of IOM’s livelihood opportunities for host communities in Cox’s Bazar are supported by USAID’s Bureau for Humanitarian Assistance.

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