The United States Agency for International Development (USAID) has handed over a multi-purpose cyclone shelter in Naikhongchari upazila of Bandarban to the government of Bangladesh.
USAID Country Mission Director Derrick Brown inaugurated the shelter on Friday on behalf of the US Embassy Dhaka.
Located in Baishpari village of Naikhongchari upazila, the government multi-purpose primary school and disaster shelter can accommodate 400 people during natural disasters.
This new multi-purpose shelter is the latest demonstration of the long-term US commitment to the people of Bangladesh as the country nears its 50th anniversary of independence, reads a press release.
The new multi-purpose shelter is one of the government's primary schools refurbished under the USAID-Bangladesh Multi-Purpose Cyclone Shelter Repair and Refurbishment programme.
So far, 23 of 46 schools have been refurbished in Cox's Bazar and Bandarban (USAID's Ashroi Kendra project).
Renovation work included updating the school's water, sanitation, and electrical systems, painting, and installing child-friendly furniture.
The refurbished multi-purpose shelter/school facility creates a conducive environment for students as well as temporary accommodation for local community members during any climatic incident.
"The US government is proud to help build the resilience of the local community to deal with natural disasters and fund the renovation of this school to provide an improved child-friendly learning space, so local children can have better access to life-changing education, and the community has a haven during natural disasters," said Derrick Brown.
Inauguration ceremony Chief Guest, Director General of the Department of Disaster Management, Md Atiqul Haque said, "Bangladesh has achieved significant progress in disaster risk reduction through a paradigm shift from a relief oriented to a comprehensive approach. I am happy to see that with the support of USAID local government primary schools can provide shelter during disasters."
With another project, USAID is providing support for the construction of 25 new multi-purpose disaster shelters in Cox's Bazar and Bandarban through a joint project being implemented by CARE, Save the Children, and local partner, GRAUS.
For nearly five decades, USAID, the US Government's lead development agency, has worked closely with many partners to mitigate the impact of natural disasters in Bangladesh. The USAID Mission in Bangladesh is currently funding the construction and maintenance of multi-purpose cyclone shelter throughout the country as well as wave protection walls and earthen embankments to reduce flood damage.
Since 2001, USAID, in partnership with the Government of Bangladesh, has constructed over 500 cyclone shelters in coastal areas of Bangladesh that provide life-saving protection to 9,00,000 people during severe weather. These shelters serve as safe havens during floods, cyclones, and other natural disasters.
The US government, through USAID, has provided more than $8 billion in development assistance to Bangladesh since its independence. In 2019, USAID alone provided over $200 million to improve the lives of people in Bangladesh through programmes that expand food security and economic opportunity, improve health and education, promote democratic institutions and practices, protect the environment, and increase resilience to climate change.
And, since the outbreak of Covid-19 in Bangladesh, the US Government, through multiple US agencies, has provided over $73.2 million of assistance to support local response efforts.
During the inauguration, Md Atiqul Huq, Director General, Department of Disaster Management; Save the Children's Country Director Onno van Manen; and other government officials were present.