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An exceptional Nomad Community

BACKGROUND

INDAB has been working in Babugonj and Banaripara upajila under Barisal district for well over two decades, with various awareness-raising, promotional, developmental and service deliver programs as well as disaster risk reduction, towards extreme poor people's day-to-day advancement and their protection against hazard risk and vulnerability.

Of all the families and groups the Organization is working with, a very different, unusual and separate entity of people is what we and the people in the area know as Bedey, a nomadic community passing their family life and pursuing livelihoods on water primarily on the support of boat.


 

This Bedey community, a floating group of human being numbering about 375 families in both the areas, live on the canal boats by the side of Arialkha river flowing along-side Babuganj upazila and river Sandhya in such un -stable, irregular and risky life on water and continuing their habitation along with their children and grand-children decade after decade.

Living there for last 40 years, this deprived and unfortunate community in those areas have got river-vehicle boat as the only life-support system/element and do consider boat as their prize possession along with fishing net and angling stick, maintaining their life only on fish-catch, (i) these forlorn community are not part of the mainstream, (ii) do not have anything to do on the mainland (in fact, not allowed to), (iii) education, decent livelihoods, better health, recreation, etc., having no relevance to them, and (iv) even corpse burial posing a tough problem for them.

Calling them human under-dogs/social parasite should possibly be no over-statement.

 

PAST REFERENCE


  • No citizenship/no voting right
  • Go-NGO indifference and non-recognition due to their floating/non-residential/non-permanent feature
  • Unaware of government service delivery provisions including khash lands
  • Complete deprivation from access to government and non-government formal or non-formal literacy program
  • No access to GO-NGO support in disaster after-math
  • Non-applicability of , and deprivation from, women and children rights
  • No ownership of boat or fishing gear
  • Dependence on others for livelihoods fetching them a minimal part of the total fish-catch, not ensuring in its
    wake a full square-meal for the family members
  • Average one meal per day was the maximum
  • Average per day income of BDT 10-15/-
  •  Maximum 1 to 2 clothing to manage the physical coverage
  • Total dependence on unscientific, untenable and indigenous medication
  • Indifferent to any savings
  • Dependence on unscrupulous money-lenders high-interest loan
  • No knowledge either of family planning or disaster preparedness and hazard risk reduction
  • Well accustomed to irregular and unhygienic way of life
  • Rampant Polygamy and wide-spread Smoking (both male and female)
  • Falsehood and unacceptable/questionable dialogue/conversion
  • Not amenable to any dialogue or discussion for better living

PRESENT STATUS (following INDAB linkage)

 

  • Enlisted as Voters
  • Regular participation in discussion / dialogue / meeting focusing on any constructive and relevant subject /
    issue as well as orientation / training
  • Better linked with LEB and local administration
  • Better aware of women and children rights
  • Women access to family decision-making  process gradually increasing
  • Participation  in rally, discussion meet, seminar, etc., towards access to various GO-NGO service
    delivery opportunities
  • Some 30 families in Babugonj enlisted for entitlement  to GOB khash land
  • Learning and practicing disaster risk reduction options as well as family planning  measures
  • Polygamy on gradual waning out process
  • Many bedey family owning boat and fishing gear
  • Two square meals-a-day by and large ensured
  • Per head income per day in the range of BDT 18-21/-
  • Declining trend in use of credit available with greedy Money lenders
  • Dealing in Savings and Micro-credit and doing well
  • Some improvement in leaving standard / Visit to others clad in fare outfit
  • Children taking to education as far as practicable
  • Access to government / non-government hospitals / clinics
  • Gradual rise in personal  / family dignity and social acceptance

RESULT / IMPACT (following further innovative approach)

  • Use of mechanized boat for fishing purpose, resulting in increased earning in absence of hassle / complexity
  • Provision of king-size fishing net for large fish-catch
  • Provision of ice-box in the mechanizes boat for fish preservation
  • Availability of fish go-down (Arot) for expanded  business
  • Training for bedey male and female on modern aquaculture as well as fish preservation technique
  • Utilization of mechanized  boat as water-transport vehicle during fish-ban period and there by continuing
    family earning
  • Permanent living place / space towards better family shelter
  • Provision of safe water and sanitary latrine
  • Scope of non-formal education and medical treatment in the vicinity of bedey  community
  • Formation of an active committee comprising Bedey and non bedey Locals towards legal support
    and rights establishment
  • Intensive advocacy to farther the cause of khash land allotment as well as bedey access to GO-NGO service
    / facility / opportunity.
  • Establishment of Bedey community dignity and social acceptance.

 

Bedey Community in the Upazila
Area
Total Bedey families
Coverage by INDAB
Babugonj
315
150
Banaripara
50
30

 


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