Islamic Relief is helping communities in Bangladesh protect themselves against a changing climate.

Islamic Relief has begun a project in SallaUpazilla, in Sunamgonj, in north eastern Bangladesh, to plan and deliver climate resilient development at a local level.

The area, which is mostly marshland, has felt the impact of a changing climate, becoming like an island in the rainy season and a desert in the dry season.

Most residents work in paddy cultivation and fishing, but flash floods, hail storms, cyclones and torrential rain are all jeopardizing their crops. The rainy season is also leaving whole communities marooned, making it even harder to earn a living and escape extreme poverty.

Finding ways to reduce impact

Through the Islamic Relief initiative, a series of Ward Disaster Management Committees have been formed, each made up of around 30 or 40 people, including teachers, religious leaders, fishermen, farmers, day labourers, and including often marginalised groups such as people with disabilities and women. Each committee meets monthly to discuss natural disasters, risks, and what can be done to reduce impact.

Already the groups have collected dry food, fuel, and medicine for use in a disaster. To help warn all residents of expected disasters, they have collected a megaphone, hand siren, radio and life jackets. They also formed a rescue team.

The committees also plan to open a disaster fund, so communities can put money aside for use in a disaster. They have decided to present a drama in their villages to help raise awareness of disasters and their impact. They also hope to get support for tube-well and sanitary toilets for the area, so safe water and sanitation can be ensured.

Munirul Islam, Programme Manager at Islamic Relief Bangladesh, said: “Many people in the community are willing to get involved in disaster preparedness and response. They are determined to work together to ensure everybody’s needs are met. The capacity of these groups needs to be strengthened, and Islamic Relief works with them on disaster risk reduction, climate change adaptation and community management.”

Islamic Relief Bangladesh has been working in Bangladesh since 1991, and already carries out initiatives in disaster reduction, such as our work with the Bangladesh Water Development Board to develop a better flood warning system.