The world’s poorest communities are often hardest hit by disasters and the effects of climate change. Poor communities in Bangladesh – one of the most disaster-prone countries on earth – are especially vulnerable. Here, we visit Dakkin Bedkhashi, a remote union of Khulna, located in the south-west of the country, to see how communities here are mobilising around Islamic Relief’s innovative disaster risk reduction programme.

Dakkin Bedkhashi is surrounded by the world’s largest mangrove forest, Sundarbans. Communities here were devastated by cyclone Sidr in 2007 and cyclone Aila just two years later. Approximately 5200 households of the locality were affected and houses were damaged, forcing people to live under open sky for months. Livelihoods were lost in agriculture-reliant communities, as saline intrusion turned farming land barren.

Islamic Relief Worldwide supported the affected people of Dakkin Bedkashi through its emergency response and the aftermath of both disasters. In addition, the organization has been working with vulnerable communities to strengthen them against future disasters and the effects of climate change.

Sustainability is core to our empowering programme, which mainstreams disaster risk reduction and climate change adaption into local development processes – leveraging vital existing resources and institutional funding.

Through multifaceted awareness and capacity development programmes, Islamic Relief has mobilised the Union Disaster Management Committee to develop its first ever action plan. This aims to reduce the risk arising from disasters. It has also allocated funding up to 2015, leveraging Union council budget toward initiatives agreed by the community. Plans include small-scale mitigation, tree plantation, awareness raising, as well as emergency response and capacity building initiatives.

With the confidence to plan and implement their action plan, as well as leverage funding, Dakkin Bedkhashi is a model that other communities are seeking to replicate.“We are very thankful to Islamic Relief Bangladesh for making our plan in to action. It helps us to enhance the skill and knowledge of community volunteers and will help to reduce the damage”- Mr. Abdul Mannan, Chairman of Dakkin Bedkhashi union and the President of Union Disaster Management Committee (UDMC).