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Raised plinths: Blessing for char households in escaping floods

By Mamun Islam

RANGPUR, Aug 27, 2015 (BSS) - The raised plinths have again proved to be a real blessing for over 1.33 lakh extremely poor families living in low-lying remote char areas on the Brahmaputra basin in effectively escaping the current floods.

The plinths have been raised to save the char people along with properties and domestic animals from floods under the comprehensive Chars Livelihoods Programme (CLP) to assist them in becoming self-reliant amid adverse situations.

Like in the previous years, the CLP beneficiary families have been escaping floods, saving properties and cattle heads and also been providing shelters to the other displaced flood-hit people as their houses are inundated in neighbouring areas.

Talking to BSS, Livelihoods Coordinator of CLP Dr Mahbub Alam said the char people have been enjoying the privilege and changing their fortune following implementation of CLP activities by a number of NGOs since 2004 in ten northwestern riverine districts.

Under the comprehensive livelihoods development programme, plinths of 5.17 lakh people belonging to 1.33 lakh have-nots group landless char households have been raised in two phases exceeding the fixed target of 1.17 lakh households since 2004.

Of them, plinths of 55,000 households were raised against targeted 50,000 households under CLP phase-I during 2004-2010 and 78,078 against 67,000 households under phase-II during 2010-2016 along with providing assistance to improve livelihoods by 2016.

The UKaid through the Department for International Development (DFID) and Australian Government through Australian Agency for International Development (AusAID) have been jointly funding implementation of the CLP.

Under the sponsorship of the Ministry of Local Government, Rural
Development and Cooperatives and management through Maxwell Stamp Plc, CLP is being executed by the Rural Development and Cooperatives Division.

Agriculture and Environment Coordinator of RDRS Bangladesh, one of the CLP implementing partner organisations, Mamunur Rashid said the CLP has become effective to assist char people in escaping floods as well as adapting with climate change.

Chairman of Astomirchar union in Chilmari upazila Sohrab Hossain said floodwaters could not inundate houses of the CLP beneficiaries who have also access to sanitation, pure drinking water, healthcare, microfinance, nutrition and education.

CLP beneficiaries Parul, Mahfuza, Makduda, Lalbanu, Shahera and Halima Begum of different char villages on the Brahmaputra bed in Kurigram, Rahela and Kulsum of a char village on the Teesta bed in Rangpur termed plinth-raising as their savior.

"We have been remaining safe now along with our properties, essentials and cattle-heads during the current floods like every year and helping neighbours through providing shelters on our raised plinths like in the previous years," the women said.

Beneficiaries Hanifa, Mariyam, Mamtaz, Parveen, Delwara, Aklima, Jahura and Bulbuli of different char villages also narrated as how they have been escaping floods for the tenth consecutive time this season when their other surrounding areas submerged.

"Side by side escaping floods, we are saving our domestic animals and poultry birds and cultivate vegetables in our raised tiny homesteads despite floods now to consume those and achieve self-reliance," they said.

Chilmari upazila chairman Shawkat Ali Sarker, Bir Bikram, and Editor of the Weekly Juger Khabar SM Nurul Alam Sarker said the plinth- raising programme has become effective to escape floods by char people side by side improving their livelihoods.

They urged the government and donor agencies for expanding the CLP even after its expiry in 2016 to help the extremely poor char people in escaping floods and improving livelihoods, life standard and socioeconomic conditions under adverse situations.

Head of Programme Coordination of RDRS Bangladesh Monjusree Saha termed the plinth-raising programme has as an effective model and suggested its further continuation in escaping floods and achieving self-reliance by poor char people.

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