Down a dusty side street on the outskirts of Myitkyina in Kachin State, the "clack-clack" of wooden looms can be heard in the distance. Drawing closer, in a compound fenced with bamboo, a modest house with walls of woven bamboo slats and a zinc roof sits on concrete stilts. It is home to Ja Dwal Weaving.
Meredith Walsh (back row, fourth from right), CPI Board Chair Dr. Tom Lee (second row, third from left) and CPI Board Member Dr. Adam Richards (second row, second from left) with CPI Bangladesh staff and Community Health Volunteers in Cox's Bazar in June 2019. Photo: Reza Shahriar Rahman for Community Partners International
Meredith Walsh, Community Partners International (CPI)’s Country Director in Bangladesh, reflects on the last 20 months working to support Rohingya refugees in Cox’s Bazar.
I arrived in Bangladesh in early November 2017 to help Community Partners International (CPI) set up operations in Cox’s Bazar. Just over two months earlier, this small sliver of land squeezed between Rakhine State in western Myanmar and the Bay of Bengal, became the world’s largest refugee camp virtually overnight.
Ma Yin Shwe Aye lives with her husband and two daughters, aged 5 and 10, in their modest bamboo house in Kyaw Nu village, Myanmar. The village is situated in Mawlamyinegyun township of the Ayeyarwady Delta region in the southwest of Myanmar. In the dry season, when they can't collect rainwater, the family draws water from a nearby creek, but Ma Yin Shwe Aye worries that this water might not be good for her children's health. In July 2018, the family started using a new ceramic filter as part of a community-based project supported by Community Partners International (CPI). We visited the family in March 2019 to find out how they were getting on with the new water filter.
As part of efforts to combat deforestation and improve health in refugee camps in Cox’s Bazar, Bangladesh, Community Partners International (CPI) is working with Bangladeshi organization the Village Education Resource Center (VERC) to introduce improved cookstoves into refugee households. On December 11, 2018, the VERC-CPI Energy team organized the first public cooking competition in Camp 8E in which five contestants took up the challenge to cook the best chicken curry with rice on three different cookstove models. The competition was held to showcase the advantages of improved cookstoves and promote uptake in the Rohingya refugee community.
For the more than 900,000 Rohingya refugees from Myanmar sheltering in Cox’s Bazar, Bangladesh, the simple act of cooking a meal lies at the heart of a complex web of health, safety, nutrition and environmental concerns. Community Partners International (CPI) is launching a project to bring improved cookstoves into refugee households in Cox’s Bazar to help reduce firewood consumption that drives environmental degradation and deforestation, and support efforts to decrease levels of indoor air pollution that can negatively impact people’s health.