Fahima tries to find a way out of poverty
20-year-old Fahima lives in Sylhet’s Jaintiapur upazila. She lives with her husband and two young children on her mother-in-law’s property in Guabari village. Jaintiapur is famous for being a women-led community. Fahima’s family is no different, with her mother-in-law reigning over the family and dictating what she thought would be best for her children, their spouses, and her grandchildren.This is particularly difficult for Fahima, who is hard of hearing, quiet, and very shy. Married off at the age of 14 years, she had always dreamt of earning enough to support her family, owning their own plot of land, and ensuring stable futures for their children. This dream became increasingly improbable as the couple had their first child when Fahima was 16 years old, and a second child in 2019. Fahima’s husband is a day labourer, and is often unable to find work. The couple, living hand to mouth in Fahima’s mother-in-law’s compound, seek out her support when they do not have enough food at home. They live on her compound, and looks to her for support when they do not have enough food at home. Guabari is a rocky, relatively uncultivable area that is often prone to climatebased disasters
When she was 15 years old, Tahmina joined Suchana field mobilisers assessed the needs of households in Guabari, and asked women from poor and very poor households, like Fahima herself, to participate in Suchana’s introductory meetings. The women learnt of problems associated with chronic malnutrition in Sylhet at the meeting, and the repercussions theretofore in their children and in their own lives.
Fahima was pregnant with her son then, and thought it might be helpful for her to learn more about children’s health and wellbeing. Her interest was further piqued when she found that Suchana was giving her funding for four chickens to improve her family’s nutrition.
The roof of Fahima’s home was severely damaged during thunderstorms in 2019. She was able to scrounge up some money to repair the roof, and borrowed the rest from the VSLA of which she was a member. This loan and savings scheme was vital
in allowing her to mend her roof in time for the winter season last year.As the programme phased out of her area, the VSLA disbanded. This year’s thunderstorms ravaged Fahima’s roof again, but she has not managed to find financing for repairs. The COVID-19 lockdowns have affected Tahmina’s incoming stock of products, resulting in somewhat reduced sales for 4 months. However, once restrictions were lifted and the supply chain had returned to its usual state, her sales had increased once again.
Suchana’s graduation model takes into account the overall, sustained improvement in the lives of beneficiaries in terms of improved nutritional practices, improved access to or production of nutritious food, and increased incomes to ensure sustainable development. Fahima was unable to improve much in any of these criteria for the following reasons:
Suchana: Ending the cycle of undernutrition in Bangladesh is a multisectoral nutrition programme which aims to reduce chronic undernutrition leading to stunting among children under two years of age in 235,500 poor and very poor households in the Sylhet and Moulvibazar districts of Bangladesh.
The programme adopts an integrated approach to nutrition-specific and nutrition-sensitive interventions and generates a sustainable and replicable model that can be scaled.
Suchana is funded by the Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office (FCDO) and the EU, and is implemented by a consortium of 8 different development organisations and research agencies: Center for Natural Resource Studies (CNRS), Friends in Village Development Bangladesh (FIVDB), Helen Keller International, icddr,b, iDE, Rangpur Dinajpur Rural Service (RDRS), Save the Children, and WorldFish.
The consortium is led by Save the Children.