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Gaibandha District, located in northern Bangladesh, is chronically affected by seasonal floods during the months of July to September. While flooding of the riverine area is an annual event, every 3–4 years has traditionally seen a more severe flood where homes and farmland become inundated with water for between 10 and 20 days, with the most recent severe flood occurring in September 2014. During severe floods, residents of the riverine areas can be displaced from their homes for up to 2 months. Emergency needs in these times include clean water, sanitation facilities and hygiene products.
In May 2016, Oxfam facilitated a Pre-Crisis Market Analysis in Gaibandha district that aimed to identify if alternatives to in-kind distributions were possible or appropriate, to build recommendations into contingency planning to improve preparedness and to mitigate the impact of regular crises. The target population was poor and ultra-poor households, which typically have seasonal income, do not own land and work as sharecroppers. Two crisis scenarios were selected: annual flooding and an extreme flooding event. The PCMA focused on critical market systems for WASH NFIs, including soap, oral rehydration solution, menstrual hygiene management (MHM) materials and water containers.
In general, all items which are typically provided in-kind by relief actors during flood emergencies are already available in sufficient quantities within the local market, and all are items which are regularly purchased by the target population. During periods of flooding, the target population’s access to markets actually improves. As flood waters inundate the area, boat travel becomes ubiquitous, and affordable boat travel to local markets is utilized by the majority of the target population.
The report recommends that essential WASH NFIs should be distributed via restricted digital value vouchers redeemable at Fulchhari Market, with the exception of chlorine tablets, which should be distributed in kind. Relief actors should consider providing cash grants to traders for restocking if the anticipated need exceeds what they are able to restock themselves. The value of the voucher should be established at the WASH Cluster level through the development of a WASH NFI "basket." Meanwhile, any post-emergency sanitation interventions should aim to link beneficiaries to existing sanitation marketing programs rather than providing in-kind provision of hardware. They should further work with SanMarts to develop low-cost, flood-appropriate options for latrines. In areas where no sanitation marketing or micro-finance options exist, relief actors should aim to provide sanitation materials through the local market.