Supporting people before, during and after disasters

Bangladesh is one of the world's countries most at risk from disasters, particularly cyclones and floods, and their impact can be devastating.

It is now also coping with more than 740,000 people who fled their homes in Myanmar and are living in makeshift camps in the Cox's Bazar area.

This monsoon season, hundreds of thousands of people are living in very cramped and damp conditions in the world's largest refugee camp. Now they also face the threat of COVID-19. 

Thousands of volunteers from our partners the Bangladesh Red Crescent are providing people with food, water and mobile health services, including two isolation field hospitals.

Building people’s ability to cope in Bangladesh

The British Red Cross has worked in partnership with the Bangladesh Red Crescent for over a decade. Our projects reach around 250,000 people living across the country in urban and rural areas.

  • prepare for disasters, know what to when they happen and recover afterwards
  • get access to clean water and hygienic sanitation, and understand how this helps stop disease
  • gain the skills and support they need to earn a living.

These linked programmes help people deal with important everyday issues. Starting from this improved base, they can cope better during emergencies.

Communities are at the core of our projects. Most are run through community committees using their local knowledge to organise what needs to be done in their areas. The Red Cross and the government provide technical support as needed.

This approach creates long-term solutions so people can help themselves, their families and their communities during crises and every day.

Support for people fleeing their homes

On top of our long-term programmes, the Red Cross and Red Crescent helping to support over  671,000 people who fled violence in Myanmar since August 2017. They joined tens of thousands of others who had already fled to Bangladesh. Most are now living in makeshift camps in the Cox’s Bazar area of Bangladesh, where conditions are tough.

With support from our Myanmar Appeal, the Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement is providing food, clean water and medical care to thousands of people.

Visit our Myanmar page to find out more.

Support for people living in cities

Barisal city’s geography gives it unique challenges. A major port, it is prone to cyclones, is crossed by canals and lies in the flood plains of several major rivers. Many people from rural areas move there every year and thousands of families live in areas at risk of flooding.

We work with the Bangladesh Red Crescent Society to help 25,000 people in ten slum areas cope when floods strike. Next year, we will expand the programme to work in another eight communities. 

The project supports our partner to:

  • prepare for emergencies so it can provide humanitarian aid quickly and effectively during disasters
  • work with at least ten schools to help teachers and students learn the importance of clean water and hygiene as well as how to stay safe when disasters hit
  • promote disaster management and planning with local and national institutions

The Red Cross also supports people to gain new skills to earn a living. Helping people in slum areas to find work can increase their ability to cope during crises and at other times.

We focus on building employment skills that also help with health challenges. For example, people learn how to build and sell environmentally friendly stoves. Traditional birth attendants also have the opportunity to train and work with existing health services.

Rural areas: preparing for disasters

Kurigram district in the north of Bangladesh is one of the country’s poorest regions. Its people are mostly farmers but climate change makes the rainfall they depend on unpredictable. Flooding can also be a problem.

Women and children may be particularly vulnerable in disasters because their access to services is not as good as men’s. If they don’t work outside the home it is also harder for them to recover afterwards.

The Red Cross helps 100,000 of the most vulnerable people in 30 communities to:

  • gain knowledge and skills to manage risks from natural disasters
  • promote disaster management and planning in local and national institutions
  • work with at least 40 schools to help teachers and students learn the importance of clean water and hygiene as well as how to stay safe when disasters hit.

Through a Red Cross water and sanitation project in the same communities, people will get better access to clean water and hygienic latrines. They will also learn about the connection between hygiene and good health.