Bangladesh: Two years after Cyclone SidrLivelihoods I: Abdul Raheem

Published: 13 November 2009 0:00 CET

The livelihoods programme provides vulnerable families with a cash grant based on a proposal to start an income-generating activity to replace their lost means of subsistence. It requires applicants to write a proposal for a new business and open a bank account to receive payments - something most of the people in the village of Lota Baria in Barguna District have never done.

Former sharecropper and day labourer Abdul Raheem (40) lost everything he had when Cyclone Sidr devastated southwest Bangladesh. He applied to the programme to become a poultry farmer.

"I escaped from the cyclone but my life stopped,” he explains. "My wife and daughter were swept away but I was lucky. I found them clinging to a tree the next day, hurt but still alive. All my cows died. It took a long time to get back to normal after such a disaster. I was a day labourer after the cyclone because my rice had been destroyed and I had nothing."

"I never had a bank account before and I thought it would be very hard, but now I know it's not and I can save some money from my new job. I had never been a poultry farmer before but everyone around here knows a bit about it."

Abdul Raheem received 10,000 Bangaldeshi Taka (approx. 145 US dollars, 146 Swiss francs or 96 euros). With this cash grant he set up a duck farm with a coop, ponds and fencing and sells ducklings and eggs.

The livelihoods program in Lota Baria village identified 99 proposals from 235 applicants who qualified for funding and all have been successful.

"My social status here has risen with my business and the future looks bright. It makes me feel good. I didn't think it would end up like this,” Abdul Raheem said proudly.

Mohammed Keramot Ali, livelihoods programme manager for the Cyclone Sidr Operation, felt there were many advantages. "People have benefited - they can make up for their losses. Their livelihood can be sustainable and their bank accounts are an asset for the future."