Three United Nations (UN) agencies have launched a project in Dhaka with the government to mitigate deforestation and improve livelihood opportunities in Cox’s Bazar.
The ‘Safe Access to Fuel and Energy Plus Livelihoods (SAFE Plus)’ is a joint project between the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), the International Organization for Migration (IOM), and the World Food Programme (WFP).
This is also aimed at addressing environmental degradation through avenues such as distribution of Liquified Petroleum Gas (LPG) and stoves, reforestation, and improved access to food production through livelihoods programming, the UN agencies said in a joint statement.
The LPG stove and gas distributions lessen the need for people to collect firewood, causing further damage to the environment. The reforestation activities rehabilitate unique forest reserves and protect natural resources. The livelihoods and self-reliance programming bolsters food production and business opportunities for the host community through which they can benefit economically.
The three-year project was designed in partnership with government agencies to increase collaboration between several sectors. Previously these activities were being completed under a humanitarian programme, this signing ceremony means SAFE Plus is now a development programme to improve livelihoods and lives in the most vulnerable region of Bangladesh.
“My ministry is delighted to be working with the UN to address the environmental issues in Cox’s Bazar, and we urge development partners to further support this,” said Shah Kamal, Senior Secretary for the ministry of disaster management and relief, said.
At the agreement signing ceremony, the Additional Secretary Economic Relations Division, Ministry of Finance and UN Wing Chief, Sultana Afroz thanked the UN agencies for coming forward to support the Rohingya as well as the host community.
“The generosity that the government and the people of Bangladesh has shown, despite our own development challenges is exemplary,” she said. “Now it is the international community’s responsibility to ensure that Bangladesh does not bear this burden alone and that there is a durable solution to this crisis in the form of repatriation to Myanmar.”
“SAFE Plus capitalizes on the technical capacities of the three UN agencies and government partners to meet the evolving needs of the people of Cox’s Bazar,” said Robert Simpson, FAO Representative in Bangladesh. “It is expected to have significant multiplier effects – from improved food and nutrition security, to sustainable management of natural resources increased livelihood opportunities, and strengthened social cohesion.”
“IOM is delighted to announce SAFE Plus as a programme that addresses both the human and the environmental needs of the refugees and host community” said Giorgi Gigauri, Chief of Mission of IOM Bangladesh. “Protecting our environment and improving livelihood opportunities is key to ensuring food security for people in Cox’s Bazar,” said Mr Richard Ragan, Country Representative for WFP.