Response of COVID-19 Crisis at Bandarban Hill District of Bangladesh by BNKS

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Source image : Deccan Herald. – Bandarban district is located in south-eastern part mountains; this district is one of the poverty districts of Bangladesh. A report shows that 19.5% of people living on less than $1.90/day in Bandarban (Data source: FFP Baseline study’2017, ICF International). So, most of the people in the area don’t have the capacity to invest their little money in hygiene protocol. On the other hand, they don’t know the severity of this virus. If those people become contaminated in any way the whole community will be contaminated. That’s why BNKS has taken planning to provide hygiene kit to those people to be used to the hygiene practice.

Most of the districts of Bangladesh are already lockdown due to start community transmission and Bandarban Hill District is one of them. As the response of crisis Bangladesh government and some NGOs are providing food to vulnerable people. It’s seen in different media that some vulnerable and poor peoples of Bandarban have already received assistance such as rice, pulse, oil, and salt, etc. But, it’s not sufficient to survive and it’s seen from different media that the peoples of remoteness are not yet received such assistance. In this regard, the community people are living in vulnerability.

The main livelihood options of ethnic groups of Bandarban are Jum Cultivation and fruit gardening. Most of the ethnic people run half of the year their livelihood through income from the sale of cashew nut, local Mango, Jackfruits, Litchi, and Pine-apple, etc. And remaining year runs by Jum (slash and burn cultivation on slope land) products sale such as rice, corn, pumpkin, sesame, etc. The fruits gardening products harvesting time will be started after a couple of days and as preparation of Jum cultivation jungle burning works have been started.

The months of April to June are a lean period in Bandarban Hill district and in this time they survive by harvesting and selling jungle food and other products. But they can’t go to the market to sell due to lockdown. In this regard, they are facing a problem with food shortage and informed us even they can’t Jum cultivation due to lack of money. It is highly alarming that time of scarcity will show in remote areas of Bandarban, if NGOs and Government can’t take necessary effort soon.

BNKS is a local NGO and doesn’t have an available resource to provide support to the vulnerable community self. So, BNKS has circulated alert notes among partners to take necessary effort for providing assistance and some partners have a response. Manusher Jonno Foundation is one of them.

Supported by Manusher Jonno Foundation BNKS has provided food package (Per person the package is Rice-5 kg Onion 1kg, Pulse-2kg (daily), Soybean oil a half liter, Salt-1 kg, Soap-250gm) and hygiene kits (Mask, Soap). The food package has distributed to 252 HHs of Thanchi sub-district and hygiene kit distributed to 1052 HHs of Bandarban sadar sub-district.

As a partner of BNKS, World Vision Bangladesh management has informed us that they have approved $25000.00 for providing food and hygiene kit assistance among vulnerable people of Bandarban sadar sub-district. This response will be started soon. Another partner ActionAid Bangladesh has informed us that they are taking effort into the vulnerable community of Thanchi sub district.