Women farmer selling vegetables in front of women-led collection center in Jaliaplong Union | © Helvetas/Jahangir Kabir

Improving the life of refugees and host communities

© Helvetas/Jahangir Kabir

In Bangladesh almost 900,000 Rohingya refugees live in vulnerable conditions in areas already confronted with lack of economic opportunities. Helvetas works to improve food security, self-reliance and resilience of refugees and hosting communities.

  • Project Name
    Rohingya Crisis: Enhancing Food Security, Self-Reliance and Livelihoods (EFSL)
  • Project Phase
    2019 to 2022
  • Funding
    This project is funded by Swiss Solidarity and Canton Geneva
  • Thematic focus
    Food & Nutrition
    Gender & Social Equity
    Humanitarian Response
    Voice, Inclusion & Cohesion

The Rohingya refugees arrived in Bangladesh in 2017, yet their living conditions in the 33 camps in Cox’s Bazar district continue to be difficult making them dependent on humanitarian aid. There is an urgent need to enhance food security and nutrition awareness and promote life skills to restore hope, dignity, and self-sufficiency. At the same time, the rapid and massive increase of the refugee population has had an enormous impact on Bangladesh host communities’ food security, economic vulnerability, market access, and labour opportunities.

The “Rohingya Crisis: Enhancing Food Security, Self-Reliance and Livelihoods” (EFSL) project is implemented by Helvetas and its local partner Shushilan. The project aims to enhance the food security and self-reliance of Rohingya refugees and strengthening the livelihood bases and resilience of impoverished host families. The project supports the improvement of production and consumption of fresh vegetables. Refugees receive technical training, as well as guidance and mentoring from local experts in agriculture (Local Service Providers - LSPs), while the host community improves their production and consumption of vegetables through improved skills, new cultivation practices and climate-smart agricultural technologies.

EFSL - Technical Training | © Helvetas Bangladesh
A Local Service Provider woman provides technical training for vegetable production to host community members at Ratnapalong Union. © Helvetas Bangladesh
EFSL - Vertical Garden in Camp | © Helvetas Bangladesh
Through vertical gardens and organic pest control, the refugees living in the camps can make the best use of the small spaces and inputs available © Helvetas Bangladesh
EFSL - Mentoring support by Local Service Provider | © Helvetas Bangladesh
Local Service Provider giving advice and mentoring support to local farmers © Helvetas Bangladesh
Agricultural Kit Distribution | © Helvetas Bangladesh
The project provides agricultural inputs to set up the vegetable gardens to the camp community © Helvetas Bangladesh
EFSL - Mentoring Support by Local Service Provider | © Helvetas Bangladesh
Local Service Provider give advice and mentoring support to local farmers © Helvetas Bangladesh
Community Garden | © Helvetas Bangladesh
Kabir Ahmed, refugee living in the camp, takes care of the community demo garden in the camp area and provides mentoring support to his community © Helvetas Bangladesh
EFSL - Homestead Garden | © Helvetas Bangladesh
Through the technical support and agricultural kits, farmers can now grow more vegetables © Helvetas Bangladesh

In the refugee camps, the project developed innovative cost-effective solutions such as vertical gardens installed on the sides of the house or on the rooftop to make best use of the limited space available in the camps and improve families’ access to fresh food. The Rohingya refugees can benefit from the increased availability of produce grown by the farmers of the host community and seek advice from the same Local Services Providers: an exchange that contributes to strengthen social cohesion.

In the host community, the EFSL project has capacitated local farmers preparing them to act as Local Service Providers who provide their expertise to other host community members and the Rohingya community. Moreover, the project established local “Collection and Sales Centers”, vegetable collection points, which are easily accessible for a wide number of local farmers. This allows the farmers to easily sell their surplus produce and have a secured linkage to the market. Overall, this not only enables the host community to increase their income but to diversify their diet.

By focusing specifically on the participation of women farmers and ensuring their inclusion in the vegetable production and marketing & sales groups, the EFSL project contributes to women’s empowerment within their family and community and also at the inter-community level.

Now entering its’ last year of implementation, the project supports 22.000 households (7.000 in the host community and 15.000 in the Rohingya Community) enhancing Food Security, Self-Reliance and Livelihoods.

The project is funded by Swiss Solidarity and Canton Geneva.

The project is listed as an example of Good Practice at the UNHCR/Global Compact for Refugees Digital Platform.

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