Bangladesh, with around 160 million people, is one of the world’s most densely populated countries and also one of the most vulnerable to the impacts of various disasters and climate change.  People in Bangladesh live precariously close to the risk of cyclones, floods and droughts, and more than 100 million people live in rural areas.  Two-thirds of the country is less than five metres above sea level and in an average year, a quarter of the country is flooded.

The socioeconomic conditions likewise make communities vulnerable.  Even more than three decades of donor assistance development in Bangladesh remains very much a work in process.  Despite recent economic growth roughly half of the country’s population – almost 70 million people—live blow the poverty line.  The adult literacy rate is one of the lowest in the world; only 24% of the rural population has access to electricity; roughly 3 million children receive no schooling; and only 37% of mothers receive adequate pre-natal care.

Based on these socioeconomic. geographic and climactic realities, disaster history and potential risk, the Bangladesh Red Crescent Society focuses on health, disaster management, community resilience, organisational development and humanitarian diplomacy.

Canadian Red Cross support

The Canadian Red Cross is supporting the work of the Bangladesh Red Crescent through three programs.  Two programs reduce disaster risk and improve community resilience, and one program helps the Bangladesh Red Crescent meets its organizational development priorities.

Organizational development support is crucial for the longer term viability of a Red Cross or Red Crescent Society and is fundamental for the Red Cross Red Crescent Movement’s work in fulfilling the needs of the most vulnerable.  The Canadian Red Cross contribution through the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies will strengthen Bangladesh Red Crescent leadership and enhance their management systems. This strengthens the Bangladesh Red Crescent to deliver better services  to vulnerable populations.

Disaster risk reduction programs at the community level across Bangladesh set up volunteer disaster response groups, develop disaster protocols and plans of action, and provide information and training to help communities identify and mitigate risks.