What we do
This section gives some background into the range of activities that CLP carries out to improve the livelihoods, income and food security of up to one million extremely poor women, children and men living on island chars in the north west of Bangladesh.
Promoting Sustainable Livelihoods and Improving Markets for the Poor
Although many people move to the chars because they perceive them to offer better livelihood opportunities than their original locations, living on the chars comes at a cost. Livelihoods need to be able to cope with seasonal flooding, as well as the erosion of chars and their re-deposition elsewhere. This means that people are vulnerable to shocks and severe disruptions that can quickly plunge them back into extreme poverty.
CLP’s Asset Transfer Project (ATP) has been designed to help extremely poor chars-dwellers to build a sustainable livelihood. An income-generating asset worth TK 17,500 (about £148) is given to the female member of each core participating household (CPHH). Core participants (CPs) have a choice of assets, but the vast majority – around 98% – choose cattle.
Cattle are a sensible choice for the chars. They are a recognised source of livelihoods, with many chars-dwellers already keeping cattle; they can create good income streams through meat, milk and calves; they are relatively easy to care for, even in the chars context; and, most importantly, they can be loaded onto a boat and transported if there is a disastrous flood. As well as the asset, CLP provides a comprehensive package of cattle management training as well as other livestock services, such as vaccinations and artificial insemination. Click here for more details on the asset transfer project.
Having a cow and cattle management training is only the start of a sustainable livelihood, however. Chars-dwellers also face weak markets and often have low levels of access to inputs and other services such as finance. CLP works to overcome these through its Markets initiative. Using a “Making Markets Work for the Poor” (M4P) approach, CLP has helped set up Livestock, Milk and Fodder Business Groups (BGs) that aim to assist their members to improve production techniques and raise their profits. They also aim to improve relationships between producers and other actors in the market chain, such as input providers (e.g. seed and feed sellers, fertiliser traders, milk and meat traders etc) as well as buyers. These BGs are supported by Char Business Centres (CBCs) which are designed to further improve linkages and business relationships between market actors. CLP has also encouraged a number of micro-finance providers to either start operating on the chars, or increase their coverage to take advantage of the potential market these BGs and the CBCs represent. Click herefor more details on CLP’s market-related activities.
Protecting Communities from Floods and Erosion
Floods and the erosion of the chars that people live on are constant dangers for chars-dwellers. Some participants have reported that their houses, along with almost all their possessions and livelihood-generating assets, have been swept away in as little as an hour from when their char began to show signs of erosion. Such vulnerability has an obvious impact on people’s journey out of extreme poverty, so CLP’s Infrastructure unit aims to reduce the chances of such a calamity.
CLP provides each CP with a plinth – a mound of earth engineered to be at least 60 cm (2 feet) above the highest-known flood level in the area. Non-participants are also allocated to these plinths, spreading the benefits of CLP among the community as a whole.
These plinths are literally the foundations on which the sustainability of many of the CLP’s activities rely. They help to protect the CPs’ livelihoods, their improved water supplies, their latrines, their homestead gardens and their lives!
And it is not just the CPs and others that live on the plinths that benefit. In floods, many more members of the community either shelter on the plinths themselves, or move their cattle and other income-generating assets on to the plinths and out of the floodwaters. Thus the plinths help the whole community in times of crisis – and also help raise the social status of the core participants.
Click here for more details on CLP’s Infrastructure activities.
Increasing Access to Water, Sanitation and Hygiene
Good health is vital for a sustainable livelihood, especially for chars-dwellers that do not have secure jobs or access to social welfare systems. Having a reliable supply of improved water and good sanitation facilities are important factors in promoting good health. CLP assists participants through subsidising a tubewell or upgrading existing tubewell facilities. Click here for more details on CLP’s water activities.
CLP also helps CPs to improve their sanitation facilities, providing a subsidy to build a hygienic latrine. Click here for more details on CLP’s sanitation activities.
Both of these activities are complemented by training and community sensitisation activities, such as the “Open Defecation Free Village” campaign, which is usually spear-headed by the CLP-supported Village Development Committee. This campaign aims to raise awareness of the dangers of defecating anywhere other than a hygienic latrine. Training is also provided into subjects such as good hand-washing techniques and highlighting all the occasions when hands should be washed.
Improving Food Security and Promoting Good Nutrition
Food security exists when “all people, at all times, have access to sufficient, safe and nutritious food to maintain a healthy and active life”. Food security is complex, but can be broken down into three pillars:
- Food availability: food must be available in sufficient quantities on a consistent basis;
- Access to food: households must be able to regularly acquire adequate amounts of food; and
- Food utilisation: consumed food must have positive nutritional impact on people.
CLP assists the availability of food through its Homestead gardening project, as well as through initiatives such as the poultry project. The ATP also helps some households access milk, for example. Access to food increases for core participants for a variety of reasons. The livelihood that households develop through the CLP asset often helps them to diversify, with many households buying or leasing land which they use to further boost their income. Food utilisation is also improved through CLP’s health, water, sanitation and hygiene activities. CLP participants report much less illness than control groups; they have ash or soap close to their latrines and other water points; and they are much more diligent in their hand-washing activities, all of which indicates that food utilisation is improving among CLP participants.
During 2013, CLP also began the Direct Nutrition Intervention, which provides one-on-one counselling on nutrition, as well as distributing iron and folic acid tablets and multi-nutrient powders to various target groups. Click here for more details on CLP’s nutrition activities.
Supporting Women’s Empowerment and Social Development
All of CLP’s core participants are women. This targeting choice is made partly for practical reasons (the adult male or husband in many households is often a migratory labourer, and so may not be present for much of the year), but also to promote women’s empowerment and social development.
CLP organises a variety of different groups, meetings and training sessions to raise people’s awareness of social development issues. Through Social Development Groups, sensitive issues such as early marriage, dowry and domestic violence. The Village Development Committees that CLP supports implement the “Open Defecation Free Village” campaign to improve sanitation; and Adolescent Groups allow young people to discuss topics such as puberty, personal health & hygiene, reproductive health and marriage.
CLP also works with couples, men and influential community leaders to begin discussions on community development topics, and raise awareness of some of the harm done by traditional cultural practices such as dowry and early marriage.
Through a participatory approach involving women from the chars, the CLP has also developed a method and scorecard for assessing women’s empowerment. Click here for more details on how CLP measures women’s empowerment and our results, and Click here for more details on CLP’s social development activities.
Reduced environmental and economic risk
Improved social and economic assets
Increased access to markets and services
Best practice developed and communicated
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