Life in the Chars in Bangladesh: Improving nutrition and supporting livelihoods through homestead food production

The riverine sand and silt landmasses known as char in Bengali are home to over 5 million people in Bangladesh.1 These areas are highly vulnerable to sudden and forceful flooding as well as erosion and loss of land, which makes living in the chars both hazardous and insecure. Many char dwellers struggle to produce or buy enough food to eat, and malnutrition and micronutrient deficiencies are more common than elsewhere in the country. Solutions to these problems require approaches that help poor households make best use of their available resources and cope better with the difficult environment. This bulletin describes how Helen Keller International’s homestead food production program provides support to fragile livelihoods in the chars and improves the well-being of the entire household by promoting specially adapted low cost technologies for gardening and livestock-raising, improving food security and dietary practices, providing employment for women and a source of income for the household.

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