‘Asrayan Prakalpo’, one of the 10 priority projects of the present government, has turned into an evident means of alleviating poverty of the people who once passed their days in extreme miseries after becoming victims of disasters like cyclone, river erosion and landslides.
In Rangpur about 4,500 people affected by river erosion and other climatic disorders are changing their fortune through various income generating activities under the comprehensive social safety-net programs of Ashraya Project.
The Awami League government led by Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina following a devastating cyclone on May 19, 1997 in Cox’s Bazaar and adjoining areas launched the project to rehabilitate the cyclone affected people.
The aim of the project was to rehabilitate the affected people with giving them with the opportunities of living in a better condition, ensuring basic education, health care and skill development on income generating activities.
Talking to BSS, a number of beneficiaries of the project narrated their stories of transformation toward prosperity.
“After getting training in income-generating activities, Upazila Cooperative Office provided us with Taka 6,000 as first loan in 2012 when we started cultivating crops as sharecroppers,” said Lucky Begum (35), a beneficiary of the project.
Nur Mian ( 42) another receiver of the Chengmari Asrayan Phase-2 Prokalpo in Gangachara upazila, said now he feels economic comfort after revolving the credits received from the project for his homestead farming and animal husbandry.
“After payment of the first loan, my family again got Taka 8,000 in 2014 to purchase a bull. I sold it at Taka 24,000 in 2016, paid the second loan and again got Taka 18,000 loan in 2016,” he said.
Asrayan Prakalpa has ended economic vulnerability of many homeless families by providing them with shelters and necessary financial assistance to rebuild their life, they said adding that rehabilitated people are leading meaningful life and their children are going to schools with better attires.
Deputy Director (Local Government) at local district administration Ruhul Amin Mian said a total of 4,500 distressed families have been rehabilitated after completing construction of tin-shed barracks under 41 projects in three phases in eight upazilas of the district since 1997.
The local government departments, including Upazila Cooperatives Offices, are implementing the government’s comprehensive social safety-net activities for mainstreaming of the rehabilitated people.
The males and female members of the project are being given training for awareness building , capacity building and human resource development to enable them becoming engaged with income generating activities, he said.
Talking to BSS, Gangachara Upazila Cooperatives Officer Md. Aftabuzzaman said a total of 2,660 families affected by river erosion have been rehabilitated at Asrayan Prakalpo’ in the upazila.
After their rehabilitation, local government departments provided them with necessary training and Upazila Cooperative Office is arranged interest-free microcredit to enhance to help them start income generating activities.
“We have purchased two bulls, took lease of 12 decimals of cropland and opened a grocery shop,” said Lucky adding that now they have assets worth Taka 3.50-lakh and their daughter Nasrin studies in Class Eight and son Russell in Class- V.
Abu Bakar (67), Anwarul Islam (56), Mariyam Nesa (52) and Sekel Banu (70) also gave the same picture of their life saying once they were homeless. Now they are living well ending their miseries through income-generating activities like raising cows and goats, poultry farming, homestead gardening and other occupation.
Badarganj Upazila Cooperative Officer Shamsunnahar Begum said 200 homeless families were rehabilitated at Osmanpur Khamarerdanga Asrayan Prakalpo in the upazila in 2006.
Rehabilitated couple Ashraf, 47, and Sabina, 42, at Osmanpur Khamarerdanga Asrayan Prakalpo in Badarganj upazila said they struggled a lot for survival since becoming homeless until their rehabilitation there in 2006.
Sabina said she got Taka 8,000 as interest-free loan for the first time in 2009 and purchased a heifer and opened a grocery shop. After paying the loan, she got Taka 12,000 for the second time and subsequently got credit for two more times.
‘Now, we have 16 cattle heads and my home is furnished with furniture, television and solar panel,” she said adding that they have set up a dairy farm and their son Sabbir and daughter Armina are studying in Class ten and class eight respectively,” Sabina added.
The rehabilitated people expressed their deep gratitude to Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina for assisting them in rebuilding their fortune to lead a meaningful life.