Speakers at a discussion yesterday stressed the need for engaging more local people and organisations in aid management at Rohingya refugee camps, saying their knowledge will be helpful in facing the crisis.
They said locals were the first to respond to the Rohingya influx that started six months earlier. They hosted the refugees and fulfilled their initial needs successfully.
Coast Trust arranged the discussion at the capital's Cirdap where officials from local and international development organisations participated.
The speakers also called upon the international donor agencies to maintain commitments of the “Grand Bargain” to disburse fund for the refugees.
The “Grand Bargain” is an agreement between more than 30 of the biggest donors and aid providers. One of its commitments is to provide “25 percent of humanitarian funding by 2020 to local and national responders as directly as possible to improve outcomes for affected people and reduce transactional costs”.
Coast Assistant Director Mujibul Haque Munir said 12 agencies are leading 14 humanitarian response clusters at refugee camps at present.
Only one of those is a local NGO, while four are international NGOs and seven UN agencies, said Munir, stressing the need for providing an opportunity for local organisations.
Helal Uddin, director, NGO Affairs Bureau, Prime Minister's Office, said 110 NGOs are operational in Cox's Bazar at present. Most of these are international organisations who are implementing over 250 projects.
Shaheen Anam, executive director of Manusher Jonno Foundation, said local NGOs have increased their capacity over the years.
These NGOs once needed to bring expertise from outside, “but those days are far gone now”, she said.
“Respect the local knowledge. Respect the capacity of local organisations,” she added.
Disaster Forum Member Secretary Gowhar Nayeem Wahra said the existing relief distribution is costlier as relief-laden trucks now travel extra miles, with first going to Cox's Bazar town and then reaching the camps in Ukhia and Teknaf due to a bureaucratic process. This could be cut short to save time and money if the relief-laden trucks go straight to the camps instead, he added. Rohingya crisis is a social and moral obligation for the countrymen and a collective effort is required to face it, said Abu Morshed Chowdhury, a civil society member from Cox's Bazar.
Vincent Gule, protection officer, UNHCR Representation in Bangladesh; and Abdusattor Esoev, deputy chief of mission, IOM Bangladesh, spoke, among others.
Coast Trust Executive Director Rezaul Karim Chowdhury moderated the event.