© Helvetas/Franca Roiatti

Supporting communities to reduce risks and improve their livelihoods

© Helvetas/Franca Roiatti
  • Project Name
    SHINE - Supporting Harmony, Improving Nutrition and the Environment for the Rohingya and Host Community
  • Project Phase
    2022 to 2025
  • Funding
    Donations, contributions, Irene M. Staehelin Foundation
  • Thematic focus
    Climate & Disaster Resilience
    Private Sector Development

Rohingya population and families from the villages hosting refugee camps in Cox’s Bazar are extremely vulnerable because of high levels of poverty and exposure to cyclones, floods and other environmental hazards. The SHINE project supports them by strengthening their capacity to respond to disaster, their economic resilience and social cohesion.

Communities living in the area of Cox’s Bazar’s are among the most vulnerable of Bangladesh. Every year during the rainy season cyclones, floods and landslides threaten their lives and livelihoods. In 2017 hundreds and thousands Rohingya fled violence in Myanmar seeking shelter in the surroundings of Cox’s Bazar, where now almost a million people are living in the world’s largest refugee camp.  This massive increase of population has put an immense strain on natural resources, infrastructure, and services in host communities, who have been the first responders to the Rohingya crisis. The impacts of Covid 19 pandemic and rising prices are further jeopardizing the livelihoods of the most disadvantaged and increasing the risk of conflicts.

The Supporting harmony, improving nutrition and the environment (SHINE) project works with Rohingya refugees and host communities to strengthen their resilience to natural disasters, reduce their economic vulnerability and foster social cohesion through:

  • The adoption of climate-resilient livelihood solutions and the by strengthening local market systems
  • Cash support and increasing awareness of the target groups
  • Community restoration and awareness-raising activities

At the project onset refugees and people living in the nearby villages are involved in cash for work activities, such as rehabilitation of roads and plantation of bamboos. Better roads and bamboo trees contribute to reduce the environmental risks. The most vulnerable, who are unable to work, receive small grants that provide them a cushion against shocks.

Community risk assessments (CRA) will be conducted in a participatory way to allow families and local authorities to update their response plans and undertake adequate measures to mitigate possible impacts of extreme weather events and other environmental hazards.

In host communities SHINE works in particular to promote a culture of safety in schools as well as increasing their resilience to climate shocks. Students and teachers will participate in developing plans to assess and respond to emergencies, such as cyclones, but they will also collaborate to make schools a place where everybody feels safe engaging in activities to raise awareness on child marriage. Youth in refugee camps will work on the same issue trough Interactive Popular Theatre and other activities.

Rohingya Woman next to her shelter. Above her is the vegetable vertical garden. | © Mahabud Uddin/ Prottyashi
The vertical gardening technique allows the Rohingya refugees to grow vegetable within the very limited space at their shelter  © Mahabud Uddin/ Prottyashi
© Helvetas/Franca Roiatti
A local service provider during a training in a refugee camp © Helvetas/Franca Roiatti
Two Women at the Demonstration Plot Holding Eggplant Harvest | © Umme Kulsum/Prottyashi
The community demonstration gardens serve as a motivation and learning space for everyone who wants to grow a homestead garden © Umme Kulsum/Prottyashi
© Helvetas/Franca Roiatti
Samira, checking her vertical garden out of her shelter in the Rohingya refugee camp © Helvetas/Franca Roiatti
Helvetas staff giving plants to Rohingya woman in camp | © Farjana Sultana/Helvetas
Alongside trainings on homestead gardening in the camp context, the project distributes the necessary seedlings and saplings and ecological fertilizer © Farjana Sultana/Helvetas

To increase access to fresh and nutritious food, SHINE promotes small scale homestead gardening with agroecological and innovative practices, that for instance allow Rohingya families to grow vegetables even in confined spaces. The project facilitates the creation of linkages between producers in host communities and local value chain actors to increase potential benefits for small farmers.  Experts and farmers from host communities are also trained and engaged by the project to support Rohingya cultivating their gardens. Relations between these Local service providers (LSP) and refugee have already proven successful, and they help establish a climate of trust between Rohingya and host communities.