Lucky Begum lives up to her name

Introduction

   

30-year-old Lucky Begum is based in Novag village in Dakshin Surma. While the region is based quite close to Sylhet town, it is still deprived of infrastructural development. The residents of Novag often find themselves at risk of serious damage to their homes and land due to the heavy rainfalls followed by flash floods

. Lucky lives in a compound comprising a few different households, all members of her extended family. She feels blessed in having the full support of her family in her business ventures.

In her poultry rearing business, Lucky had lived up to her name, and was running a very successful operation, with 25 chickens. Things changed for her however in 2020 with the unexpected arrival of the COVID-19 pandemic, in addition to more than normal seasonal flooding.

 

 

Participation in Suchana

Lucky was pregnant with her fourth child around the time Suchana interventions commenced in Novag. She was interested to join the programme in the hopes of learning more about the wellbeing of her family and of ways in which she could add to her family’s income.

She had tried supporting her family through poultry rearing, for egg and meat, for a long time, and was eager to expand income generating opportunities to support her family. This seemed possible when she met Suchana field organisers, who approached the group about nutrition training and potential livelihood opportunities.

The group consisted of pregnant and new mothers. Suchana encouraged these women to get regular pre and ante natal checkups. Lucky was pregnant with her son at the time, and thought this, along with the other guidelines on caring for her children, was valuable advice.

Suchana trained Lucky’s group on the health and wellbeing of mothers and children, and how to ensure that children have access to adequate nutrition. Lucky learnt of the importance of good hygiene during these training sessions as well.

Hygiene sessions became more central to group discussions from March 2020, as Suchana field staff focussed on COVID-19 prevention measures.

Support received from Suchana

Following the initial series of meetings, Suchana analysed the needs and income generating competitiveness of the community. Lucky was selected to be a beneficiary of the Income Generating Activity (IGA) poultry because of her already substantial experience in rearing poultry. Suchana supported Lucky expand her poultry rearing business by:

  • Input. Lucky received funds to invest in more chickens, build healthy homes and hazals, and to buy quality feed for her chickens. She received BDT 1,800 in her first installment and BDT 1,200 in the second installment to buy heathy chickens. She received BDT 5,000 for chicken coops, hazals, medicines and vaccination, and healthy feed
  • Vaccinator services. Mortality rates of poultry in Sylhet were quite high as chicks were often vulnerable to catching colds, which often went untreated. Veterinarian and vaccination services were not easily available. Suchana supported Lucky’s neighbour Lipi Chandan Das to become a poultry vaccinator. She was also able to treat sick chickens. Vaccination, along with easy and immediate access to medication have significantly reduced poultry mortality rates
  • Training on poultry care. In order for Lucky to raise healthy chickens that would generate better incomes, she required training on building hazals and coops, and on keeping chickens and their homes clean. Suchana field staff supported Lucky in building these additional support structures, and provided her with guidance on poultry safekeeping. Lucky now knows that a common reason for chickens falling ill is dehydration, and that hazals keep eggs safe
  • Business development. Lucky was connected with backward market linkages through the programme. She now knows where she would be able to purchase feed for the chickens, or access materials to build hazals or their coops. She also knows about fair pricing and negotiations, and is able to sell both chicken and their eggs at the market and to her neighbours. Lucky sells eggs for BDT 150 per dozen, and her chickens sell from BDT 250 per chicken to BDT 500 chicken. These are sometimes above market prices, and people are willing to pay the price because of the quality of the produce. When her chickens laid eggs, Lucky was able to sell two baskets of eggs daily

 

 

 

 

 

  • Health and hygiene training
  • Training on the importance of savings
  • How to create and maintain a savings group
  • Collaboration with the Flood Forecasting Warning Center, Bangladesh Meteorological Department, and the Department of Disaster Management in disseminating SMSes to warn of floods

 

Saving

As part of their training from Suchana, Lucky and other members of her producer group are members of a Village Savings and Loan Association (VSLA). Every week, they deposit BDT 10 to BDT 20 to the group. The group was a safety net for Lucky, who was able to borrow from them when faced with emergencies.

The VSLA encouraged Lucky and the other women in her family to start a savings group amongst themselves. In order to encourage regular deposits, the group has a raffle draw at the end of every other month where a lucky winner receives BDT 5,000. Lucky and her mother-in-law, both members of the group, had won the pot once each during lockdown. They were able to invest this money into home renovations.

COVID-19 and floods in 2020

Lucky’s family faced a series of difficulties come March 2020. Her husband, a builder and carpenter, was unemployed from March. As much of the work involved working at people’s homes, they were reluctant to have him enter their homes till the last week of September. Even then, the heavy rainfalls meant that his work was halted.

Her family had a small homestead garden where she grew vegetables for her family’s daily consumption. The garden was destroyed in the storms. Lucky now needs to avail fresh produce from the market, a habit she discourages. She notes that the fresh produce in the market are usually a few days old and likely to spoil.

Things appeared to worsen as thunderstorms destroyed a portion of her home, her hen coops, and several hazals. Without any income coming in from her husband, Lucky was forced to sell off 16 of her 25 chickens in order to pay for the repairs. This was very upsetting for her as she had spent time, care, and around BDT 150,000 over the years to pay for the wellbeing of her chickens.

She used the rest of the money to pay for doctor’s visits for her elderly mother-in-law and children. With her hen coops and most of her hazals destroyed, Lucky now needs to keep chickens in the backyard. She had covered up the area with a waterproof tarp, and the chickens stayed under their bed over jute rags and sacks

 

Disaster preparedness

Suchana facilitated a programme between the Bangladesh Meteorological Department and Suchana beneficiary households, where the former warns the latter of potential storms and other natural disasters. Lucky and members of her producer group receive messages from the Department so they can protect their homes, animals, and gardens from potential disasters.

While they still suffer from losses, Lucky thinks these messages allow them to circumnavigate some damage to their property.

Plans for the future

Lucky is preparing her eldest daughter for her Primary School Certification Examinations next year. She is intent on keeping her daughters healthy and happy, and to ensure that the family has enough savings so all her children are educated.

She plans on expanding her business again to support their dreams, and to continue supporting her husband.

About Suchana

Suchana: Ending the cycle of undernutrition in Bangladesh is a multisectoral nutrition programme which aims to reduce chronic undernutrition leading to stunting among children under two years of age in 235,500 poor and very poor households in the Sylhet and Moulvibazar districts of Bangladesh.

The programme adopts an integrated approach to nutrition-specific and nutrition-sensitive interventions and generates a sustainable and replicable model that can be scaled. Suchana is funded by the Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office (FCDO) and the EU, and is implemented by a consortium of 8 different development organisations and research agencies: Center for Natural Resource Studies (CNRS), Friends in Village Development Bangladesh (FIVDB), Helen Keller International, icddr,b, iDE, Rangpur Dinajpur Rural Service (RDRS), Save the Children, and WorldFish.

The consortium is led by Save the Children.

Contact us at:

suchana.bangladesh@savethechildren.org
House CWN (A) 35, Road 43, Gulshan 2, Dhaka 1212