Introduction: Since 2020, Christian Aid, has been working with 56 local women led CSOs to have enhanced capacity to promote women’s leadership, accelerate localisation of Disaster Risk Reduction, increase resilience building and promote gender mainstreaming in DRR and response processes. During the 2020 COVID-19 lockdown, Christian Aid provided support to CSOs in responding Covid-19 through provisioning unconditional multiple cash transfer projects to 2322 most marginalised groups and gender diverse people in designated five districts (Kurigram, Jamalpur, Patuakhali, Khulna and Satkhira district). Further, six CSOs were also involved in Cyclone Amphan and Floods activities with cash disbursement, complaint mechanism, beneficiary selection, hygiene kits distribution, etc. The referred project collaborates with Christian Aid, Caritas, World Vision and Oxfam, funded by Un Women, IrishAid, FCDO-UNOPS and ECHO. CA Bangladesh also supports 13 women CSOs in Jamalpur and Kurigram districts to enhance the food security and disaster resilience of 260 vulnerable families using its core resources.
Rational: One of the learning from recent CA projects is that since almost 50% of the total population are women, their active participation in early warning systems is crucial to protect more lives, livelihoods, and infrastructures2. Women have been an integral part of the early warning system from the very beginning. Therefore, it is crucial to include women in the community-based approach to developing more gender-responsive, mainstreamed, and resilient societies. As the most grassroot level organisations, women led CSOs are well placed in their communities to take women friendly best initiatives to tackle climatic events and reduction of disaster risks interventions. Hence their capacity on designing, managing guided by standards and polices are required.
Millions living in poverty in these areas have been devastated by the effects of Cyclone Amphan. The 2020 Floods affected 3.3 million people in 21 districts with more than 50% being women and girls (1.7 million); 84,195 are Female-Headed Households, 101,000 are pregnant women; 1.6 lac are girls aged between 5 and 18. These are the most vulnerable groups to food insecurity, gender-based violence and inaccessibility to essential services. Further, in 2020, communities have been hit hard by the sudden and unprecedented spread of COVID-19. For those at the frontlines of climate change, the pandemic and its associated lockdowns have only had a multiplier effect. With combined effects of floods, cyclone and COVID-19, many people witnessed disruption to livelihoods and various income-generating activities, functioning of local markets, crops, livestock, and fisheries. Bangladeshi women, who control homestead-based livelihoods, lose income, and have the situation worsen when crops are blown or washed away. Loss of homestead also meant that access to essential vegetables and fruits were not available during COVID-19. Food security remains a concern for Bangladesh who has one of the high child stunting rates globally. Due to harmful social and gender norms, women and girls often eat less and last. This negative coping mechanism was further exacerbated during the COVID-19.
Considering the above information, Christian Aid is planning to utilise its unrestricted funds to strengthen the capacity and knowledge of women led CSOs and Union Disaster Management Committees and women farmers on resilient action planning and executing of the plans in their respective locality by establishing climate-resilient on farm and off farm trails, improving the resources they depend on, and empowering them to “better deal” with disaster and pandemics like Covid-19.