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Adolescents’ and Youths’ Power to Protect and Own Native Environment (APONE) - Cox's Bazar, Bangladesh

Young people in communities hosting Rohingya refugees will adopt climate & social actions to protect & develop ownership of the environment.

Photo of Mostafijur Rahman
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Explain your project idea (2,000 characters)

Cox’s Bazar is a coastal district of Bangladesh prone to disaster & conflict, bordering Myanmar. It currently hosts more than 1 million Rohingya refugees from Myanmar & is vulnerable to climate change, exacerbated by deforestation of reserve forests for refugee camps & their cooking fuel requirements. The district is also religiously more conservative, with several violent incidents motivated by extremism. When Rohingya refugees entered in August 2017, host communities welcomed them, but now tension also prevails as limited natural resources, such as land, are shared. In this context, the proposed project APONE (meaning “Own” in Bangla) will engage adolescents & youths in Cox’s Bazar to design & implement climate & social actions that protect & develop the sense of ownership of their native natural & social environment. Youths will form solidarity clubs within their own communities. Oxfam & partners will build their capacity through Climate Change & Environmental Education (CCEE) integrated with life skills that help them to understand climate change, protect themselves & adopt sustainable lifestyles through climate & social actions. The youth solidarity clubs will volunteer time on a reforestation campaign around the Rohingya camps & also engage in tree plantation to prevent land erosion & offset deforestation caused by building refugee camps. They will also organize youth action camps to clean the city through waste management, street cleaning, etc. & install community-managed early warning systems for landslides, flash floods & cyclones & disseminate messages through campaigns on disaster-risk reduction (DRR). They will organize sessions on nonviolent conflict resolution, & be more vigilant on prevention of child, early & forced marriage (CEFM) & violence against women & girls (VAWG). Systematic institutionalization of youth volunteerism will promote ownership & protection of their environment & strengthen the relationships shared with refugee communities.

Who are the beneficiaries? (1,000 characters)

Direct beneficiaries are 2000 adolescents & youths from host communities who will engage in relevant climate & social actions. Indirect beneficiaries are other members of host & Rohingya refugee communities & the local Government of Bangladesh. Adolescents & youths will benefit from CCEE & life skills, which prior work has proved to be very empowering. Reforestation will protect shared land on which host & refugee communities are based. In addition to contributing to cleaner & greener communities that are using less fossil fuels, eco-friendly waste management & use of clean, renewable energy solutions will reduce women’s unpaid care work burden as they switch to biogas digesters & solar panels, decreasing income inequalities between women & men. Community-managed early warning systems & messages on DRR will help save lives & strengthen local governance. Messages on nonviolent conflict resolution, CEFM & VAWG prevention will increase knowledge & change attitudes of community members.

How is your idea unique? (1,000 characters)

The idea is unique as it targets adolescents & youths of vulnerable & underserved host communities as channels to promote peace & prosperity among host & refugee communities, as well as tackle climate change & natural disasters. Currently, there is strong emphasis on supporting the Rohingya refugees in Cox’s Bazar. Since September 2017, Oxfam has reached 230,000 Rohingya people in Cox’s Bazar with life-saving aid. However, not much programming exists to address the needs of host communities, which APONE will address. Oxfam has significant experience in building climate resilience & engaging youth in Bangladesh through its flagship program REECALL 2021 & the Empower Youth for Work project, which incorporates climate actions into the life skills curriculum for youths. Oxfam also has a strong Gender & Women’s Leadership program where projects such as I am One & I am Many, Creating Spaces, etc. are working with young women, men & communities to prevent VAWG, CEFM & extremism in Bangladesh.

Idea Proposal Stage (choose one)

  • Early Adoption: I have completed a pilot and analyzed the impact of that pilot on the intended users of the idea. I have begun to expand the pilot for early adoption.

Tell us more about your organization/company (1 sentence and website URL)

In Bangladesh, Oxfam implements programs & campaigns around gender & women’s leadership, economic justice & resilience, & humanitarian capacity building & response, working with partners to support Rohingya refugees in Cox's Bazar, provide life & job skills to youth, facilitate climate change adaptation & disaster risk reduction in rural areas, prevent & address VAWG/CEFM, provide WASH services & advocate for local & national policies to reduce poverty & inequality. -

Expertise in sector

  • 7+ years

Organization Filing Status

  • Yes, we are a registered non-profit.

In 3-4 sentences, tell us the inspiration or story that encouraged you to start this project.

Our success in providing life skills, integrated with climate action, to young people, & building resilience of rural, underserved communities has inspired us to start this project. The potential of young people must be tapped to make the most of the upcoming demographic dividend in Bangladesh. We are inspired by their energy & enthusiasm to protect the planet by finding sustainable solutions to climate change & natural disasters & promote peace & prosperity by reducing inequalities.

Please explain how your selected topic areas are influenced, in the local context of your project (1,000 characters).

The project works with young people from Cox's Bazar, which faces a host of interrelated issues threatening Peace, Prosperity & Planet. The recent rise in fundamentalist violence, as well as tensions between Rohingya refugee & host communities, have adversely affected peace in Cox's Bazar. Young people, facing poverty & uncertainty about their futures, & confronting a lack of life skills, are at times recruited by extremist groups. Thus, their potential to contribute to their communities' peace & prosperity, through social & economic engagement, has remained underutilized. Climate change, deforestation & natural disasters, such as floods and cyclones, have impacted the planet & therefore the natural environment of Cox's Bazar, which also serves as a major tourist hub. Thus, the economy of the area is closely tied with conservation of its natural environment. In ensuring that young people adopt social & climate actions, the project offers a holistic solution to these key problems.

Who will work alongside your organization in the project idea? (1,000 characters)

Oxfam in Bangladesh has a long history of working closely with local partners. The local partners in Cox's Bazar have knowledge of the specific context in host and refugee communities, which will be crucial to the design and implementation of the project. Oxfam will lead and coordinate the project while local partners will be selected to mobilize adolescents and youths. The experienced team working on APONE will include the Economic Justice and Resilience Program Manager, the Project Coordinator and Program Officer for Oxfam’s Empower Youth for Work project, and Senior Program Officers working in the Gender and Rural programs. The experiences, needs and interests of the communities will be explored to ensure that the project is custom-made to address their priorities.

Please share some of the top strengths identified in the community which your project will serve (500 characters)

The large number of young people in Cox's Bazar present immense potential. The upcoming demographic dividend promises a boost in economic productivity, if these youths are equipped with the appropriate life skills. Many of them have been volunteering for Oxfam in Bangladesh to support the Rohingya refugee community in Cox's Bazar. The youth also feel proud of Cox's Bazar being one of the most visited tourist destinations of Bangladesh & therefore want to protect the natural environment as well.

Geographic Focus

The project works with host & Rohingya refugee communities in Cox's Bazar, Bangladesh.

How many months are required for the project idea? (500 characters)

The project idea, which will use Human-Centered Design principles to find solutions tailored to the communities' needs, requires 36 months involving observation, ideation, rapid prototyping, user feedback, iteration and implementation.

Did you submit this idea to our 2017 BridgeBuilder Challenge? (Y/N)

  • No


Join the conversation:

Photo of David Ezra Jay

Hello Mostafijur,
GreenStand  would love to help you plant more trees. You have a great story!
Reach out to me if you are interested.

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