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Publised in The Daily Star on March 14, 2014

Sadar, Chowhali Upazilas of Sirajganj

1661 families brought under 'flood insurance' project

Ahmed Humayun Kabir Topu, back from Sirajganj

As many as 1661 families living in flood-prone char (landmass emerged from riverbed) areas of 10 villages in Sadar and Chowhali upazilas under the district have been brought under 'flood insurance' project meant for supporting them during and after the natural disaster.

Under the insurance coverage, an affected family will get Tk 8 thousand if floodwater remains more than one centimetre above the danger level for 26 days at a stretch, said Md Mamunul Hassan, assistant vice president of Progoti Insurance.

The organisation with the cooperation of Swiss-Re bears the risk of the insurance benefit for the flood victims.
However, during the 20 months after starting of the project, no one got the benefit as floodwater did not stay for that long time during the period, sources said.

Under the unique project initiated in July 2012, donor organisation OXFAM is paying Tk 830 as yearly premium against each of the beneficiaries while Progoti Insurance with the cooperation of Swiss-Re takes the risk of insurance benefit for the flood victims, said Md Mamunul Hassan.

"Flood and river erosion badly affect the people of vast char areas in Sirajganj district almost every year. The victims often take loans for exorbitant interest or sell crops in advance for poor amounts, and it prolongs their sufferings. And so, we have initiated the pilot project here," said Md Nurul Amin, economic empowerment coordinator of OXFAM.

One thousand six hundred and sixty-six families of the coverage areas comprising six villages of Sirajganj Sadar upazila and four villages of Chowhali upazila have been brought under the insurance project as they were identified as vulnerable to floods, said Md Habibullah Bahar, director of Manab Mukti Sangstha, a Sirajganj-based development organisation that is implementing the pilot project.

During this correspondent's visit to the area, a few beneficiaries said they are now happy to be included under the project as it will help them in case of hardship due to flooding.

Several others, however, said the condition of water level staying one centimetre above the danger level for 26 days to get the insurance benefit seems unreasonable.

Only rarely does the water level remain at such a high level for so long time, said Md Abdus Salam of Akhandighi village in Sirajganj Sadar.

Contacted, Md Zahid Al Amin, consultant of OXFAM, said the proposal for reconsidering the flood level criteria is under consideration.

1661 families brought under flood insurance project

Publisted in Daily Star Date: March 14, 2014