By Sajid Hasan, IFRC
Azhar Mia, 35, lives in a beautiful green village named Panschim (West) Boroghona in the Banskhali sub-district of Chattogram, Bangladesh, where his house is located just a few kilometers away from the shores of the Bay of Bengal. Azhar’s village and the surrounding areas have always been a target zone for devastating cyclones. The mega cyclone in 1991 caused severe damage to this region, killing more than 135,000 people. The recent one, Cyclone Mora, also had a huge impact on Azhar’s life and livelihood.
“I used to be a day laborer and the storm changed my life overnight”, he says.
Azhar’s whole village suffered the brunt of cyclone Mora. His house and latrine were damaged. He and his family took shelter in a nearby cyclone shelter located inside the Boroghona High School. He did not have any work for weeks after the cyclone.
But after darkness, there comes light. Azhar turned his life around in less than a year. Now he owns a large-sized goat, which he bought with money he received from Bangladesh Red Crescent Society’s livelihood support program under the Cyclone Mora Operation.
“I received 15,000 Bangladeshi Taka (175 Swiss Francs) from the Red Crescent and I bought this one spending 14,000 of it,” he says, affectionately pointing towards his favorite goat. “The nanny has already given birth to this kid. They are my most favorites. I myself often do not eat and give my whole effort to feed them. You can see how healthy they are.”
Azhar’s family is comprised of four members including his two children. One of them is very young, just 3-year-old, and another just started going to school. All Azhar wishes is a secured future for him and his family.
“I can sell this goat now and earn double the amount that I invested. But I will not sell it. Rather, I will sell the kid and wait for the mother to give birth to more. She will bring me a lot of money and prosperity in future.”
Azhar has also received cash grant for latrine reconstruction, training on on participatory hygiene and sanitation transformation, livelihood, how to grow vegetable seeds and more from the Red Crescent. During the livelihood training, a livestock officer also conducted a session on how to maintain livestock properly and how to seek support over the phone. Azhar now has a sanitary latrine as well and his whole family practices better hygiene. Also, his overall knowledge regarding disaster preparedness has increased.
“I believe I am now double prepared for any disaster than ever before. I know the storms will keep on coming, but I now know how to take preparation and reduce the amount of loss.”
Tropical Cyclone Mora, which made landfall in the coastal area of Bangladesh on 30 May 2017, affected more than 3.3 million people and caused massive damage to at least 50,000 houses. The cyclone and subsequent landslide brought desolation to the lives of many people like Azhar as their livelihood, food stock and shelter were severely damaged. Bangladesh Red Crescent Society, with the help of the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies, responded immediately after the disaster and have also been providing crucial water, sanitation and hygiene promotion, livelihood and shelter support during the recovery phase.