The family of Shamima Akhter, a housewife in a village of Cox’s Bazar district, had been facing financial hardship for several years. The family was somehow surviving on the scant income of her mason husband. When her husband would remain out of work, the entire family would even go to bed without a meal sometimes. But with the financial and technical support of the USAID-funded Emergency Food Security Program (EFSP), Shamima Akhter has changed the fate of the family by cultivating vegetables and raising poultry in her backyard and abandoned land. The housewife is now contributing financially to the family along with her husband. He is also ensuring the nutritional needs of the family.
“We were feeling helpless and could not find any way to enhance our income for a modest living. World Vision came to our rescue at that time. They came up with monetary support, agricultural inputs and technical know-how. Now we can ...,” she said.
Shamima, hailing from Battali Konarpara area of Ward 8 under Rajapalang Union of Cox's Bazar’s Ukhia Upazila, is not alone to bring smile to the face of the family with the support of EFSP. Several thousand families in Ukhiya and Teknaf upazils of the southern district have greatly benefited from the program, being implemented by World Vision, one of the leading global non-governmental development organizations.
Shamima is cultivating various vegetables, including gourd, chilli, tomato, pumpkin, snake gourd, potato, cucumber, onion, bean, asparagus bean, spinach, radish, aubergine in the abandoned land of Battali Konarpara area.
Housewives Shamima, Nurnahar, Munni Akhter, Khadija Begum, Ruby Akhter and Kamrun Nahar are also cultivating vegetables and helping their families financially. They have been able to meet the nutritional needs of their families by producing vegetables and raising poultry. Munni Akhter, another housewife hailing from Konarpara under Rajapalang Union, who purchased a sewing machine with the money she received from EFSP as aid, said the program has not only alleviated her family’s poverty but also saved her marriage.
“My husband and I used to get into row almost every day as we were in financial trouble. Many a time I got angry and went to my parents’ house. Our marriage came to the brink of divorce. But by the grace of the Almighty, I found EFSP by me at that time. With their help I began to earn and contribute to the family,” said Munni, the mother of two daughters and one son.
She bought her husband a battery-powered three-wheeler with the money she saved. “Now there is no dearth of God's mercy in our world. My husband rides ‘easybike’ and we’re living a happy life,” she said.
Md Abdur Rauf, Field Officer of World Vision, said there are 5,229 beneficiaries in Ukhia and Teknaf who are provided with training and agricultural inputs under the EFSP.
“The women are being assisted to be financially solvent by producing vegetables... The economic landscape of the area is changing due to the program,” he said.
Ekhlas Uddin, Cox's Bazar district Deputy Director of the Department of Agricultural Extension, said the scope of vegetable cultivation in Cox's Bazar district is increasing day by day.
“At present vegetables are being cultivated in the yards of houses in the entire Cox's Bazar district. The target for vegetable cultivation in the district this season has been set at 6,800 hectares of land, and 6,200 hectares have already come under vegetable cultivation,” he said.
The EFSP is not only helping low-income families to improve their livelihood but also complementing the government’s efforts to enhance the production of vegetables in the district.