THE UK CHARITY Islamic Relief has been shortlisted by The Charity Awards for an award in its international aid and development category. The nominated programme is the charity’s project to tackle climate change in Bangladesh.
Islamic Relief is spending £1 million a year for three years which will help over 100,000 people protect themselves from climate change and the natural disasters which it can trigger. The effects of climate change have already been seen in the north west and southern coastal parts of Bangladesh, where heavy rain has led to flash flooding. Not only does this put people and their livestock at risk of death and injury – the floods can also cut off access, making relief work all the more difficult just at the point when it is most needed. Even after the immediate flooding subsides, communities can require further help as many crops will have been lost – as well as homes, infrastructure and personal possessions.
Islamic Relief’s project, the Enhancing Climate Change Adaptation and Disaster Resilience Project (ECCADR), is particularly targeted at people living in the most remote parts of Bangladesh. The project has helped improve infrastructure by works such as digging irrigation canals and building roads to improve emergency access – as well as training local volunteers in taking emergency action. It has also funded early warning systems which are protecting up to 170,000 people.
As well as the work targeted on avoiding natural disasters, the charity is also supporting training to help communities diversify their local economies and making those who do work more self sufficient. For example, where fishermen have been paying out to rent a boat, the charity has helped them buy their own boat – which leaves them with more income.
The project has calculated that its key achievements are:
•average family monthly income has almost trebled;
•97% of those who have been supported to find a new way to earn a living are continuing successfully in their new employment;
•people have been able to start to save money, which will help them be able to survive temporary setbacks such as natural disasters.
The winner of the international aid and development award will be announced on 8th June – a date chosen before the UK General Election was called. It is possible that the news may be somewhat buried in polling day commentary, but we shall bring you the news about the award as soon as possible.
•Local East London MP Diane Abbott mentions the work of Islamic Relief in a parliamentary debate on the effectiveness of international aid: