Less than five years since a powerful tropical cyclone devastated swathes of India and Bangladesh, Islamic Relief reports on how one Bangladeshi community is looking forward to a greener and more disaster-resilient future.

In 2009,Cyclone Aila destroyed homes and livelihoods in Dakkhin Bedkasi village. It also devastated the environment, which is central to communities in Bangladesh’s remote south-west. Trees were torn up, leaving the landscape completely denuded. People were forced out of their homesteads along the river embankment, and away from their traditional way of life.

“We have to trek a long way regularly to meet daily necessities,” said Shahinur, 25, who lives in the village. “In hot weather it is really hard to transport goods in a treeless, hot and dusty environment. The situation is not as like we had in the past”.

Islamic Relief has been working in the village since our initial emergency response to the disaster. Our work has seen us mobilising the community to strengthen against future disasters and the impact of climate change.

Planting for the future

With sustainability at the heart of development planning, our project has now seen 10,000 tree seedlings planted along the area’s internal link roads.

The 21 earthen roads – which span almost 10 kilometers – were constructed to re-connect the community through our relief and recovery programme. Most of the surface water in this area is salt, but the Ward Disaster Management Committee works hard to irrigate the plantations and has appointed local volunteers to care for the trees.

In the future, the mahogany and wide-canopied rain trees – together with the mangrove fruit trees that the community has added – will maintain the carbon cycle, improve the fertility of the soil, as well as providing food and shade for pedestrians.

Islamic Relief has been working in disaster-prone Bangladesh since 1991, when we responded to a devastating tropical cyclone. As well as providing emergency response, we also carry out vital projects designed to strengthen Bangladeshi communities against disasters.