This year the South Asian countries of Nepal, India and Bangladesh have had record breaking monsoon rains, resulting in severe flooding in some areas. While most of our media have focused on the hurricanes that have been experienced in the Caribbean, since mid-August there has been a steady flow of reports of flooding across north India.

Bangladesh is at the bottom of the rivers that carry all that flood water. All the flood water from Nepal and the northeast of India ultimately makes its way down through Bangladesh. A part of this is something that happens every year. Silt from the monsoon floods off the Himalayan ranges is what has made Bangladesh over thousands of years. The annual flood keeps Bangladesh fertile, and able to feed its large population.

This year’s flood looked for a while as if it was going to break all records. In the end result it has not been as bad as that, but still there has been significant damage, particularly for communities living near the major rivers. Crops have been wiped out. Houses have been inundated and property lost. Roads and bridges have been washed out, and communication has been difficult.

Banzaid’s partner organisation in Bangladesh, Baptist Aid-BBCF, is gearing up to help in two particular communities where they have connections with affected families.

The first area is around the District of Chandpur. This is an area where New Zealand Baptists have worked for many years, and concerns the communities that have been part of our TCDC project for the last 10 years. These communities are close to the main river, and have been hit with water through their houses and fields. Many of them are day labourers, and have been unable to work through the peak of the flood time. Baptist Aid have identified 78 families that have been particularly affected, and have planned a distribution of food, and some funds for repair and replacement of household items damaged by the flood. Cost $6,000.

The second community is north of Dhaka in Jamalpur District. Here Baptist Aid staff have identified 80 families that they want to help with house repairs and (once the flood water goes down) help with replanting their fields. Cost NZ$ 6,000.

This is only $75 per family, but will make an enormous difference to these people. We need your help to meet this need. You can make a donation here.

Established in 2007, the Chandpur TCDC project is Banzaid’s longest running programme. The project, managed by Baptist Aid Bangladesh, set out to provide a variety of community development services. A husband and wife team went to live in each village, among the people they were working to help. They began with adult literacy. As they identified the poorest families in the village they then started to work with them to build development activities: community health care; savings groups; training in income generating activity; and things like home composting for kitchen gardens. Alongside this were pre-school groups, and tutorial classes to help older children to be able to attend the local government primary schools.

At its peak the project was working in 12 villages, and had almost 1400 adults enrolled in the self-help development groups, 420 children in the pre-school groups and 430 children in the tutorial groups. They had eight years of strong support from the New Zealand Aid Programme. Now that funding has come to an end.

In considering what to keep, and what to close down, the decision was fairly straight forward – the adult savings groups could continue without our help, but continuing the children’s education programme was a priority. From 2017 it will no longer be the Chandpur TCDC Project, but will change to become the Chandpur Village Education Project. Several of the centres will be closed down, to focus on those that have good enrolments of children in the programme.

The programme will continue to be run by Baptist Aid-BBCF. Baptist Aid-BBCF is the aid and development department of the Bangladesh Baptist Christian Fellowship. Tranzsend Bangladesh staff will work with them in teacher training, and ensuring that they are able to bring the best of modern teaching methods to the programme.

The aims of the revised project will be:

Preschool groups in project villages – There are no other preschool programmes in this area of rural Bangladesh. We will support 240 children in 12 preschool groups designed to give them a good educational start when they go to school.

Tutorial classes – The state education system in Bangladesh relies on students receiving extra tuition outside of class. For the children of poor families this is often beyond what the family budget can afford. We will support 240 students from poor families in 12 tutorial groups with tutorial help to enable them to achieve well in the government education system.

Continued Transitional support for the 48 savings groups established in the original phase of the project. These groups will receive support as they transition to managing their groups independently.

The Chandpur Village Education Project needs $55,000 each year. This will provide staff salaries, staff training, and will provide resource materials for the preschool and tutorial groups in each village centre. This programme will be entirely supported from New Zealand donations. Can your family, your home group, your church, support some part of this? Contact us if you would like to support a village preschool or tutorial group.

The Total Community Development Centres project is the development vision of Baptist Aid-BBCF, the aid and development arm of the Bangladesh Baptist Church Fellowship. Their vision is for ‘a Bangladeshi society based on moral and ethical values, free from poverty, injustice and oppression with equal opportunity and sustainable livelihoods for all people’ - ‘giving life in all its fullness’. They estimate that each TCDC couple directly and positively impacts 200 local poor people, with indirect impact through friends, relatives and community relations estimated at 500 to 1000 people.

New Zealand Baptist churches have partnered with the BBCF since its inception. Churches started and nurtured by NZBMS/tranzsend were the foundation churches of the Fellowship. A new phase in this partnership has begun as we resource the Bangladesh church’s own development projects where they set out to help poor communities around them.

Baptist Aid-BBCF already had several TCDC programmes in other parts of Bangladesh. This project focuses on 12 villages around the town of Chandpur. The Chandpur district is an area of Bangladesh that has seen New Zealand Baptists involvement for over 100 years. We no longer have Kiwi families living in Chandpur, but the TCDC project will bring a new level of partnership with the local community.

Chandpur TCDC is a project of Baptist Aid-BBCF. They set the project up, and are responsible for running it. Our aim is to equip them to do the work themselves.

Bangladesh is always in the news for a disaster of one sort or another. It is one of the poorest countries of the world, with a high population density, political instability and frequent natural disasters. The geography of the country makes it prone to cyclones and flooding. Poverty is made worse by political instability, and high levels of corruption. The last decade has seen significant progress, but it is still estimated that over 60 million people are below the US$1 per day absolute poverty line.

Bangladesh Key Statistics

Population: 150 million +

Area: 144,000 sq km (about half the size of New Zealand)

Religions: Muslim 86%, Hindu 13%, Christian 0.5%, Other 0.5%

Literacy: 43% of those over the age of 15

Per Capita GDP: US$1400 (NZ GDP in 2006 was US$24,400)

See the MDG Monitor site for up to date information on Bangladesh's progress towards achieving the Millennium Development Goals

Banzaid is partnering with Baptist Aid-BBCF (Bangladesh Baptist Church Fellowship) to establish Total Community Development Centres in the Chandpur District of Bangladesh. These centres are based around core self- help groups providing :

1. Literacy programmes for adults – literacy is a basic skill that helps people to take control of their own lives

2. Children’s education – children from poor families need help so that they can enter the government education system.

3. Income generating projects – the first step is to start group members with savings schemes, and then to help them to use their savings in ways that will start earning them money. Encouragement is given for ideas like small vegetable gardens or starting small business projects.

4. Healthcare education – beginning with basic things like safe drinking water and sanitation.

Each centre is led by trained community development organisers, a husband and wife Bangladeshi couple. They live in the selected villages and work with the local community to identify needs and find ways for the people to help transform their villages. These groups are a highly effective way to alleviate poverty. It is estimated that each village centre will directly impact over 250 local people and up to an estimated 1000 through its networks.

This Google map link below shows the villages in the project. Click on the pins for more information about each village. The green pins are village locations. Purple coloured bubbles are office locations. This information will be updated as the project proceeds. Point at an area and double click, or click the + button to zoom in to see the area in more detail, or click on the 'View in Google Maps' link at the bottom to open the map in full screen. Doing this will also give you the option of taking the map into Google Earth if you have this installed on your computer.

View in Google Maps