On August 25, 2017, violence broke out in northern Rakhine State, Myanmar, near the border with Bangladesh. While all communities are impacted, the Rakhine Muslim population in northern Rakhine State, the majority of whom are known as Rohingya, has been the most severely affected.
More than 650,000 Rohingya refugees from northern Rakhine State, Myanmar, have now crossed the border seeking refuge in Cox’s Bazar, Bangladesh, and they continue to arrive each day. Most are women, the elderly and children, including newborns. With 307,500 Rohingya refugees already in Bangladesh at the beginning of the crisis, existing refugee camps and services are already overwhelmed by this unprecedented influx. New arrivals are camping in makeshift settlements scattered across fields and by the roadsides.
Arriving exhausted, hungry, sick and wounded, refugees urgently need assistance to avert a public health catastrophe. Malnutrition and sickness are taking hold with children, pregnant women and the elderly most at risk. There is deep concern about the threat of cholera and other deadly diseases.
How CPI is helping
With indications suggesting that this will be a protracted crisis, Community Partners International (CPI) is working with local partners to provide emergency relief while also looking at longer-term strategies to strengthen community-led health care and other essential services. CPI has been working to support Rohingya communities in Myanmar and Bangladesh for more than two years. Our local partners have decades of experience, extensive networks and deep contextual knowledge. We are currently focusing support on the following sectors:
CPI is working with local partners to establish, strengthen and scale up essential medical and public health services for refugee populations in Cox's Bazar.
Health Posts CPI is supporting local partners to establish and strengthen a network of Health Posts to provide primary care services with a particular focus on pregnant women, newborns, young children and the elderly. Staffed by a physician and medical assistants, the Health Posts provide a range of health services to catchmnent populations of approximately 6,000 people in surrounding neighborhoods. encompassing maternal, newborn and child health, nutrition monitoring, family planning, clinical management of rape, curative care, communicable and non-communicable disease monitoring and treatment, and emergency referral.
Community Health Volunteer (CHV) Network To support the Health Posts' activities, CPI is helping to train and equip a network of Community Health Volunteers (CHVs). These CHVs travel from house to house in the neighborhoods surrounding the Health Posts, educating households on how to stay healthy, helping them to understand the health services available, distributing health and hygiene supplies, monitoring health and referring those in need of care to suitable health facilities.
Digital Innovation for Community Health CPI has developed a tailored health application to support CHVs to provide effective health education and health monitoring services to their communities. Based on an open-source platform, the application will be loaded onto tablets provided to the CHVs. The application will help CHVs to share key health information with their communities, and support more efficient and accurate collection of health tracking data.
Ambulance Services CPI is supporting the operation, upgrading and training costs of ambulance services run by a local partners in Cox's Bazar. This service provides a crucial link for refugees to reach health care facilities with transport that is staffed by trained emergency responders.
Cookstoves Refugee populations in Cox's Bazar often struggle to find sufficient fuel to cook their food rations. In some cases, they may be forced to sell food to purchase fuel, contributing to malnutrition. The need for fuel has caused significant deforestation in the areas surrounding refugee settlements. Refugees must often walk long distances to find fuel and, for women and children in particular, this can leave them vulnerable if they are traveling in relatively isolated areas and/or in the hours of darkness. The dwindling fuel resources that people can access are often inefficient and dirty, contributing to high levels of acute respiratory infections to which babies and young children are particularly vulnerable. CPI is working with local partners to source improved and efficient cookstoves that will significantly reduce emissions and fuel consumption.
Solar Lights The lack of lighting in the refugee camps presents a significant safety and security challenge during the hours of darkness for residents, and for women, children and the elderly in particular. Household lights are also needed to increase access to latrines and to facilitate emergency referrals at night. CPI is working with local partners to distribute solar lights to households most in need.
Inadequate water and sanitation facilities pose a grave threat to the health of refugees and host communities in Cox's Bazar. Many latrines are already full, in a state of disrepair, or positioned too close to wells. Due to the shallow seashore terrain, many tube wells are not deep enough and have now run dry. CPI is working with local partners to construct tube wells more than 800 feet deep, and to repair and build latrines, in line with WASH sector standards.
CPI is working with local partners to help address the risk and impact of gender-based violence among Rohingya refugees in Cox's Bazar through awareness-raising activities and income generation initiatives for vulnerable women and adolescents.
CPI works through partners to provide essential non-food items to households when specific and urgent gaps in support have been identified. In late November 2017, CPI supported a local partner to deliver Relief Kits to 189 families in Balukhali camp. The kits contained a range of essential non-food items including a mosquito net, water storage containers, cooking and eating equipment, clothing, hygiene supplies, and oral rehydration salts. In January 2017, CPI supported a local partner to deliver 500 winter packs to households in Hakimpara camp. These packs included a blanket, children’s clothing, a shawl, a floor mat and a mosquito net.