July 18, 2024, 11:03 am

Staff Correspondent

2024-07-07 14:01:34 BdST

UN disburses $6.2M to support vulnerable flood-hit families in Bangladesh

The anticipatory action trigger for floods in the Jamuna River basin in Bangladesh has been reached, and the UN Central Emergency Relief Fund (CERF) promptly disbursed US $6.2 million to support the most vulnerable families to mitigate the impact of the floods. 

The pre-arranged funds were provided to four UN Agencies: The Food & Agriculture Organization (FAO), United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) and World Food Programme (WFP) to reach people before the forecasted floods occur.

By using early warning systems and scientific advances in disaster prediction, this CERF enabled implementing partners to reach 400,000 people in the northern Bangladesh districts of Kurigram, Gaibandha, Jamalpur, Bogura and Sirajganj, including 92,089 men, 127,290 women, 159,121 children and 6,045 people with disabilities before the flooding occurred. 

Each of the 80,000 households will receive anticipatory multi-purpose cash transfers, water purification supplies, agricultural support, dignity & baby kits, and information services on gender-based violence.

Anticipatory Action is a proactive approach to disaster management that enables the implementation and financing of actions before an extreme weather event occurs, helping families safeguard their homes and income and ensure food security before and after the crisis. 

This anticipatory grant targets vulnerable community members, including people with disabilities, transgender people, women, children, and households in the low-lying char (riverine island) areas who face an elevated risk of food insecurity and malnutrition, and protection issues due to existing poverty and marginalization.

This is the second time that Anticipatory Action has been used in Bangladesh.

The initiative was launched based on predictions by UN experts, forecasting that continued monsoon rainfall will lead to water levels along the Jamuna and other tributaries increasing significantly by mid-July, causing destructive floods. 

The allocation emphasizes the participation of both implementing agencies and affected communities to ensure that the chosen activities reflect priorities, respond to urgent life-saving needs, and improve resilience through various forms of support.

The UN Resident Coordinator in Bangladesh, Ms. Gwyn Lewis, welcomed the timely disbursal of funding: “Anticipatory Action can significantly reduce the impact of disasters on families and support a faster recovery. By providing support before a disaster hits, vulnerable communities have the financial resources in hand to cope with floods and cyclones that are growing in frequency and intensity.”

“Families are empowered to make their own decisions on how best to protect their homes and livelihoods and therefore they can better safeguard what is important, contributing to building resilience before the next cyclone or flood hits,” she added.

Historically, UN agencies have worked closely with the Government of Bangladesh to respond to floods and cyclones, providing timely responses where the needs are highest. However, in the face of vulnerabilities created by climate change and other external factors, preventive efforts like Anticipatory Action are growing in importance.

Through the current Anticipatory Action grant, FAO will support agriculture by providing livestock feed and grain storage silos to 11,310 farmers in the region. The grant will help vulnerable farmers protect their livelihoods and assets ahead of impending flood damage.

WFP will provide multipurpose cash assistance to 75,700 families to help them meet their basic food, nutrition and other essential needs and help deter people from adopting negative coping strategies such as eating less, skipping meals, or taking on debts.

UNICEF will ensure safe drinking water by making mobile treatment plant units available at evacuation points and shelters. Additionally, they will distribute water jerry cans and purification tablets to 65,000 people, including 19,000 women. 

UNICEF will also disseminate messages on early warning and good hygiene through community-based communication campaigns to minimize the risk of waterborne diseases among the affected population.

UNFPA will target 18,729 women, adolescent girls, and transgender people to provide quality services & goods to address gender-based violence, reduce maternal mortality and manage menstrual health.

The Central Emergency Response Fund (CERF) is managed by the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) and enables humanitarian agencies to deliver immediate life-saving assistance in crises worldwide. For more information on CERF visit the CERF official website. For the latest funding updates, visit the OCHA Financial Tracking Service.

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