Champions of Change (CoC) project in Cox’s Bazar, Bangladesh
Submitted by: Ms. Murshida Akhter, Humanitarian Specialist, UNFPA Bangladesh Country Office
Email: [email protected]
Introduction to the project
Bangladesh (Area: Catchment areas of UNFPA Women Friendly Spaces in Ukhiya and Teknaf in Cox’s Bazar)
1 August 2018 - Ongoing
Micro-gardening skills development and life skills education on Sexual and Reproductive Health and Rights (SRHR) and gender-based violence (GBV) for adolescent boys to make them self-reliant and to deter them from engaging in risky behaviours.
IMPACT: Reduced vulnerability of adolescents to protection risks and negative SRHR outcomes in Rohingya and Host communities in Bangladesh.
OUTCOME 1: Adolescent boys have improved knowledge and attitudes on gender, sexual and reproductive health and rights (SRHR) and safe behaviours and have improved access to quality adolescent friendly sexual and reproductive health (SRH) and psychosocial services.
OUTCOME 2: Promote a community-based approach to the Rohingya crisis response and provide protection services to persons at heightened risk.
Under the Champions of Change (CoC) project in Cox’s Bazar in Bangladesh, sessions on micro-gardening and the distribution of micro-gardening kits were an integral life enhancement opportunity provided to adolescent boys. A total of 8,550 adolescent boys in the Rohingya refugee camps and host communities attended four sessions on micro-gardening where they learned about plants, the different parts of plants - especially in relation to the importance of these parts in gardening - appropriate methods for growing different plant types in homes and how to start their own gardens. Thereafter, micro-gardening kits were distributed and the participants were able to start their own gardens.
The Bangladesh Government welcomed international assistance to manage the overall large scale Rohingya Humanitarian Crisis.
Challenges and how they were overcome
- Working in a humanitarian context of a political nature increases the time-consuming bureaucratic hurdles that must be overcome prior to implementing interventions. This includes obtaining approval from the Refugee Relief and Repatriation Commissioner as well as conducting a needs assessment at each individual camp.
- Hiring and training national staff is often delayed due to challenges associated with recruiting suitable candidates and the limited availability of interested staff.
- It is critical to build in a lengthy inception period. Interventions in the field in sensitive contexts such as the Rohingya refugee crisis can take a long time to commence and poses challenges to timely realization of project objectives.
- Finding suitable space within refugee camps to conduct interventions for adolescent boys is a challenge for all humanitarian actors.
- Fostering strong linkages between CoC participants and key community stakeholders was a challenge during the first phase of the CoC project. Community stakeholders need to be properly sensitized on CoC to effectively support adolescent boys when protection concerns arise.
- Deciding how to continue to support the CoC participants in the next phase of the program is a challenge.
- Target setting for the project was a challenge.
How they were overcome:
The UNFPA Bangladesh country office Adolescents and Youth team plans to recruit 50 adolescent boys from the first cohort of graduates as volunteer peer leaders to further build their capacity to serve as mentors for the new cohort of boys living in their communities. These boys will be trained on the CoC curriculum, facilitation skills and mentorship and they will be connected to the incoming class of CoC participants with the goal of fostering stronger and more structured support networks. Graduates from the first cohort of CoC sessions will also be engaged once a month by the volunteer community facilitators - in order to develop their leadership and mentorship skills - and thereby a network system will be established between them and the new cohort of adolescent boys.
All challenges are being overcome involving Implementing Partners, local volunteers and targeted communities.
Results of the Good Practice
98.47% of young adolescent boys and 97.92 % of older adolescent boys utilized the kits effectively. This includes growing fruits and vegetables - such as okra, indian spinach, and pumpkin - for their consumption and for their families. They have also been selling surplus produce as a small-scale income-generating opportunity, enhancing their leisure time which deters them from engaging in risky behaviours as a result of being idle.
Project will continue to engage more adolescent boys from the refugee camps and host communities in the project area.