August 25 marks the one year anniversary of the Rohingya crisis. ICCO immediately responded to the unprecedented influx of Rohingya refugees in August, 2017 and have opened up offices in Cox’s Bazar and Teknaf to support both Rohingya refugees and the host community. To date, we have provided assistance in the areas of Food Security, Livelihoods, WASH and Psychosocial Support.
After generations of statelessness and marginalization in Rakhine State in Myanmar, extreme violence forcibly displaced an estimated 706,000 people across the border in August 2017. The people of Bangladesh, one of the poorest and most densely populated countries in the world, have been very welcoming towards the Rohingya, but the influx of refugees puts a heavy burden on the host community. Cox’s Bazar is an economically disadvantaged district and the influx has exacerbated existing vulnerabilities and put enormous pressure on already scarce resources, the labor market and food prices. Cox’s Bazar district is highly vulnerable to natural hazards. During the monsoon and cyclone season needs have increased drastically. Much of the land hosting refugees is prone to flooding and landslides - which is further exacerbated by widespread deforestation on the mainly clay hills.
Early Food and WASH-kits Distribution with Kerk in Actie
As soon as the scale and speed of the Rohingya influx presented itself, ICCO used funding from Kerk in Actie (KiA) to immediately provide humanitarian response. We provided food support to 4,381 households and WASH-kits to 2,220 households at three different distribution points in the camp settlement. The supplementary food packages included lentils, soybean oil, sugar and salt - complementing rice distribution by the World Food Program (WFP). The WASH-kits included a bucket, mug, soap and an umbrella. ICCO worked through our local partner CCDB, and in coordination with WFP, the food security sector and the Bangladesh Army.
Resilient-Ecosystem and Alternative Livelihoods (REAL) with Kerk in Actie
This intervention provides alternative income generation for the ultra poor in 800 host community households. Our beneficiary selection process targets households who have been negatively impacted by their proximity to the Rohingya settlements. By providing a complete livelihoods package, ICCO aims to optimize the impact and sustainability of the intervention. The package includes: income generating asset transfer (e.g. livestock, seeds and farming tools, sewing machines or fishing nets); hands-on coaching including business development training or technical skills; food processing training and asset transfer, nutritional supplement provision and general life skill training such as awareness raising on nutrition, health and gender based violence; and social inclusion through linking up beneficiaries working in the same sectors. Each package is adjusted to the local market need and people’s skills and preferences through in-depth assessments.
Food Security with the Dutch Relief Alliance
Within the Dutch Relief Alliance (DRA), with funding from the Netherlands Ministry of Foreign Affairs, ICCO works together with KiA, Tearfund, CARE, Oxfam Novib and ZOA to provide multi-sectoral, life-saving assistance to Rohingya and host community. Within this partnership, ICCO covers the food security sector. We aim to increase dietary diversity of 2,950 Rohingya refugees through fresh food distribution and 460 micro gardening kits, combined with training to increase self-reliance. For the host community, we provide livelihood support to 1150 women through asset transfer and skill training - a scale up of our REAL project. Local vendors will receive monthly business development trainings to improve the supply of fresh produce and boost the local market. The overall aim is to empower vulnerable women and contribute to market development.
Water Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH) with the ACT Alliance
ACT Alliance members working in WASH have come together as a consortium to implement WASH services in Kutupalong mega camp. ICCO acts as a coordinating member of this consortium, holding all partners to account on minimum standards. In April 2018, ICCO alone reached 12,850 individuals through construction of latrines, WASH-kit distribution and hygiene promotion sessions. Floods and landslides directly threaten the shelters of 200,000 people in the current settlements. Expansion sites have been allocated by the Bangladeshi government, and ACT Alliance is coordinating with IOM to construct emergency WASH infrastructure in this area. So far ICCO has contributed 38 latrines with accompanying solar lights to this area.
Psychosocial Support with Clowns Without Borders & ACT Alliance
We combine hygiene behavior change and psychosocial support by encouraging communities to actively participate in fun, social and meaningful activities. ICCO partners with Clowns Without Borders (CWB) who provide interactive performances on topics like hygiene. In addition, ICCO and CWB provide workshops and trainings for volunteers in 50 child friendly spaces of our local partner CODEC. Through this capacity building element we increase the impact, sustainability and quality of the psychosocial interventions.
IOM Market Development and Livelihoods Needs Assessment
In May 2018, ICCO completed a needs assessment at the request of IOM on market development and livelihood options for host communities and Rohingya refugees. This was immediately followed up with a Market Opportunity Survey. These assessments inform future market and livelihoods development projects for the Livelihood Working Group (part of the Food Security Sector). We identified many feasible project opportunities for market development, alternative income generation and empowerment of vulnerable households.
WINGS (Women's Income Generation Support) Project Awarded by IOM in Bangladesh
The overall goal of our first project with a UN agency (IOM) is to use income generating opportunities to strengthen the resilience of women with specific protection needs from both the Rohingya and host communities. ICCO takes referrals of 460 women from IOM protection services. The project has opted for a graduation approach to lift extreme poor and vulnerable women and their families out of poverty, meaning that they can take small realistic steps up and out of the stages of poverty. Rigorous evidence show the effect of this kind of intervention last at least a year after the end of the project, and the impact is more consistent in producing positive change than both livelihood and cash transfer approaches. By targeting both host community and Rohingya women, this intervention builds social cohesion between the two groups. By acknowledging the vulnerabilities of both group, and working with them both together in a mixed setting inter community relationships are built up.