(ok, i'll admit that is rather cynical sounding, but it's becoming a standard joke that every three months we open a new project in bangladesh - the emergencies have kept us on our toes!)
quick update: i went on leave in april, and came back to another project opening! we carried out a food assessment in the chittagong hill tracts back in march/april, and the results came in - there was definitely a need to intervene. so we have started up a short term nutritional intervention in the region that appears for now, to be the hardest hit by the flowering bamboo/ rat infestation (for more information, click here).
so the past month has been another flurry of activity. 6 new international staff so far, with some on the way. plumpy nut arriving on planes (a form of 'ready to use' food which we currently use in our feeding program in teknaf as well - sachets of a paste made with peanuts, milk, sugar and vitamins - kids love it!. more info on ready to use foods here). the area we are working in is not unfamiliar to us - you may recall the post from over a year ago when i was in khagrachari for the final phase of our malaria health program. the hill tracts are a very unique region of bangladesh. it's very hilly, and there's a lot of jungle (as opposed to the rest of bangladesh which is river delta/ flood plains). malaria is a huge problem up there, which is why we had a program for so long. until a few years back, it was a conflict region as well.
the access is difficult, not tonnes of roads, and during the rainy season the streams become rivers. lots of hills, and jungle combine to make a lot of locations 'walk-in' only. the assessment took 4 weeks simply because of the amount of time it took to reach each location!
our logistical teams are currently trying to get to set up outposts in different areas so that the medical staff can set up feeding programs. as i mentioned, the terrain is not easy, and there's lots of hiking involved... everyone lives in pretty small villages, and they're pretty far apart, so we have to find a way to make sure we reach the malnourished kids.
next challenge is a food distribution (!)