In support of the Refugee Relief and Repatriation Commissioner (RRRC) and the Government of Bangladesh to reduce the number of vehicles and workers in the Rohingya camps to mitigate the risk of Covid-19, the United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) has designed a fully digitized vehicle tracking tool called the 'Humanitarian Access Project' to ensure the humanitarian community can keep critical services running in a timely manner.
When access to the camps was limited at the beginning of April, the RRRC would approve a list of vehicles each day. Using this list, the local and national law enforcement agencies would manually check each vehicle to ensure access was approved, a process that created waiting times of up to two hours, leaving less time to deliver the humanitarian assistance needed in the camps.
The Humanitarian Access Project was developed to speed up this process, make it more efficient and significantly reduce waiting times at the checkpoints. It also allows authorities to practice physical distancing because passengers and drivers are not asked to get off the car and sign the book.
At the checkpoints, WFP staff assist the authorities to track which vehicle from which organisations are going to the camp by scanning the unique QR codes provided to the vehicles and within a few seconds the vehicle is crosschecked and approved for entry.
"As the Covid-19 outbreak began in other cities and towns of Bangladesh, the RRRC office wanted to find a solution where we can provide critical services to the camp while also stopping the spread of Covid-19 in the camp area," said Md Mahbub Alam Talukder, Refugee Relief and Repatriation Commissioner. "Here WFP, ISCG, and the Logistics Sector came forward with the idea of QR coded vehicle passes for a limited number of vehicles. Through this vehicle monitoring system now we can check the numbers of vehicles along with passengers daily. We are really grateful to the team who are directly involved in this process.
"This collaboration between agencies and authorities to get projects up and running is extremely important in the fast-paced environment of emergencies," Richard Ragan, WFP Representative to Bangladesh, said. "The entire humanitarian community is working extremely hard to provide lifesaving assistance and mitigate the risk of Covid-19 in the camps by reducing the number of vehicles and staff entering the camps."
At present, there are 8 checkpoints where 12 WFP staff are crosschecking the vehicles along with Bangladesh Army, Border Guard Bangladesh and local police.