All Rohingya camps under LPG coverage

All Rohingya refugees are expected to be brought under LPG coverage by this year. An Inter Sector Coordination Group, ISCG, an umbrella of aid agencies in Cox's Bazar source said, LPG is being supplied to 127,000 Rohingya families, out of 212,000. Rest of the families meet their cooking fuel demand with Compressed Rice Husk or CRH or Charcoal, supplied as monthly ration. Refugee, Relief and Repatriation Commission, RRRC of government and ISCG source said, there is a plan to provide LPG to all refugee families, under the Joint Response Plan (JRP) 2019. Khair Hussein, a Rohingya refugee, remembers when cooking a meal meant a backbreaking trek up a dirt slope to collect firewood from the nearby bush. He isn't sure which was worse the sweltering heat of the dry season, or the thick mud of the rainy season that made many paths impassable. As time went on, the bush receded and price of firewood from vendors doubled. Wood has also become more and more expensive and so LPG is now one of our top priorities, said Khair, who fled his village of Thin Baw Kwey in Myanmar with his family of six in 2017. In mid-2017, violence across the border in Myanmar drove nearly a million Rohingyas onto the previously uninhabited hillsides of Cox's Bazar. Families, desperate for fuel to cook the rations they received from aid agencies, scoured the area looking for firewood. The result, according to International Organization of Migration IOM, was the deforestation of some 7,000 hectares. Muhammad Yunus, of Balukhali camp- 1, one of the many, who have not received LPG, said it is very difficult to manage an open fire with CRH, as the space is very stumpy in our shelter. We get only 20KG CRH for a month, but we cannot manage with it more than 20 days, rest of the days of the month we buy firewood from nearby markets by selling rations, he added. The Liquefied PG programme has been universally welcomed by the refugees and local communities, who say it reduces their spending on firewood and means cleaner air in their homes and in the camp. It also reduces the risk of violence for women forced to walk further from the camp to collect increasingly scarce firewood. In 2018, the humanitarian community in Cox's Bazar stepped in to address the problem, launching programs in 34 Rohingya camps and affected host community to reduce the need for firewood and to replant trees in and around the refugee camps. Though humanitarian support is continuing since the very beginning of the influx in 2017, LPG cylinder and related appliances supply has was started in mid-2018. In the meantime, around 50percent of refugee families got the facilities. Rest of the families will brought under LPG coverage within this year," said Shoikat Biswas, a spokesperson of ISCG. IOM, a key partner of ISCG, in collaboration with the Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO) and the World Food Program (WFP), launched Safe Plus, a project to provide the refugees and local communities with Liquefied Petroleum Gas (LPG) stoves and fuel, while rehabilitating deforested areas. Under the scheme, refugees and local villagers are given LPG stoves, fuel tanks and access to refills. Some 45,000 LPG stoves have already been distributed, with a target of 80,000 by June. Patrick Charignon, who heads the IOM unit which oversees Safe Plus, says that the project has been very successful, but its three year work plan remains less than 30 percent funded. He also highlights the importance of the parallel effort, in partnership with FAO, to replant trees in and around the camp. The initiative works because it addresses both the demand for firewood and the rehabilitation of the areas forests, he said. Besides IOM, United Nations High Commission for Refugee UNHCR is also another key partner in LPG distribution program. In JRP 2019, Shelter and Non-Food Items (NFI) sector, the budget has been allocated at USD 128.8M. LPG is being supplied under this program.