Our work in Bangladesh

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Our work in Bangladesh

Concern has been fighting extreme poverty in Bangladesh since 1972. For over 40 years, we have worked relentlessly to reduce extreme poverty by focusing on three dimensions – lack of assets, risks and vulnerabilities, and inequalities. These three dimensions guide us in all of the work we do.

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With the help of Concern, Fatema Begum from the Haors in Bangladesh developed a successful tailoring business which moved her family out of poverty. Photographs taken by Sadia Hossain/Concern Worldwide.

Where we work

As our 2017 Bangladesh Annual Plan shows, we work in four different contexts – Urban, Char, Haor and Coastal – with the aim of tackling extreme poverty. Across all of our programmes, there is a focus on working with communities to prepare for disaster and reduce the risk of disasters occurring. We’re supported by partners, including various forums, consortia, coalitions and humanitarian clusters, in both our development and emergency response activities.

Map of our programme locations in Bangladesh taken from the 2011 to 2015 Annual Review. Credit: A Plus Communication/Concern Worldwide.

Supporting the urban poor

With Dhaka fast becoming one of the most densely populated cities in the world, Bangladesh’s urban poor grow increasingly invisible. Concern’s urban programmes in Dhaka and Chittagong aim to address urban poverty by improving livelihoods and facilitating access to rights and entitlements for the poorest communities. Our focus is on pavement and squatter dwellers, an often overlooked and extremely vulnerable community. In addition, Concern will also be working with slum dwellers in the coming years.

Our InvEST project trained pavement dwellers in Dhaka to independently run a chain of mobile kitchens/ food carts. Meanwhile, our Amrao Manush (meaning “We are people too”) project has expanded to become a model for empowering street dwellers by providing business grants, education support, health and childcare services and security through dedicated “Pavement Dweller Centres”.

Empowering Char communities

The Char areas are regions of Bangladesh with highly unstable land formed by river deposits. They can easily wash away in floods, and are particularly exposed erosion and climactic shocks. The communities in these areas remain some of the most isolated and deprived in the country.

Concern is working with 15,000 households in Char areas of northern and western Bangladesh, supporting them to access livelihoods and food security, health and education, as well as water, sanitation and hygiene. We also work to ensure that Char-dwelling women have control over decision-making processes, and we support Char communities to advocate for their rights at national level.


Through the Char Integrated Programme, Concern is helping women like Nargis improve their income and ensure their families’ food security through livestock rearing in north-eastern Bangladesh. Photo by Concern Worldwide.

Our work in the Haors

Situated in the north-eastern part of Bangladesh, a haor is an ecosystem which flood extensively during the monsoon season. As extreme weather events become more frequent and severe, haor-dwellers, especially the extreme poor, grow ever more vulnerable to losing crops, livestock and other resources.

Concern has been working with haor communities since 1988, aiming to improve the lives and livelihoods of households living in extreme poverty. Our focus is on enhancing work opportunities, food security, health, water, sanitation and hygiene. We also support communities to address disaster risk reduction and inequality, and access their rights and entitlements. Through the Economic and Social Empowerment of Extreme Poor (ESEP) project, for example, we are working with local partners to aims to help move over 100,000 men, women and children out of extreme poverty.

Shopon Mia and his wife Salma Begum from Mithamoin, Kishoreganj have cultivated tomatoes as part of tested cropping patterns of the ESEP project. Photograph taken by Sadia Hossain/Concern Worldwide.

    Improving coastal resilience

    The devastation caused by Cyclone Aila was a tragic reminder of the extreme vulnerability of communities along the Bay of Bengal to the effects of climate change. Floods and drought as well as sea-level rise and increasing salinity in the soil and ground water are compounding existing challenges faced by coastal communities and in particular, the extreme poor.

    Through the Paribartan project, Concern and local partners supported communities to increase resilience and reduce risk to these impacts. Participating communities have already seen both economic and social benefits, such as an increase in average income. Co-funded by the European Union and Concern, this project aimed to impact 1.2 million people altogether in both Bangladesh and India.

    Responding to emergencies & reducing risks

    Bangladesh is prone to large-scale natural disasters every year. In the wake of devastating events such cyclones (Aila in 2009,  Mahasen in 2013 and Roanu in 2016), water-logging and floods (in the north-west in 2014 and south-east in 2015), our teams are on the ground leading intensive relief operations. However, we are also there long before disaster strikes, helping communities to increase their resilience and reduce risk, mitigating against the impacts of future hazards. This means that when a response is required, Concern is ready to deliver appropriate interventions, and communities are primed to receive our support in the most efficient and timely manner.