UN Volunteer Pragna Chakma provides micro-gardening support to youth at Rohingya Camps in Bangladesh.
UN Volunteer Pragna Chakma provides micro-gardening support to youth at Rohingya Camps in Bangladesh.

Volunteering for ‘the human race’

During humanitarian crises, UN Volunteers play an essential role supporting the communities where they live and work. On World Humanitarian Day, under the overarching theme of the climate emergency and its impact on the most vulnerable, we reflect on the work of national UN Volunteer Pragna Chakma, who supported emergency relief efforts at the Rohingya camps during recent floods in Bangladesh. 

At the end of July 2021, deadly floods and landslides had a devastating effect on those living in Rohingya refugee camps in Bangladesh. Initial reports estimated that 2,500 shelters were damaged or destroyed, affecting more than 12,000 refugees within 24 hours alone. The UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) said that over 300mm of rain fell on camps hosting more than 800,000 Rohingya refugees.

UN Volunteer Pragna Chakma, serving as a Programme Associate with the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) in Bangladesh, joined her team to help those affected by the flooding at the Rohingya camps in Cox's Bazar.

She supported efforts to distribute Menstrual Hygiene Management (MHM) kits to Rohingya adolescent girls and young women, including girls with disabilities, demonstrating how to use these products safely.

Menstruation doesn't stop just because there is an emergency. We can only speak of gender equality when we ensure every girl has access to menstruation-related information and supporting kits. It has been a great opportunity for me to be able to help during this crisis."

“Being a UN Volunteer has been an impactful experience, and I encourage everyone to volunteer, as our planet needs us now more than ever." – UN Volunteer Pragna Chakma, Programme Associate, UNFPA Bangladesh

One adolescent girl who received support is 13-year-old Taslima. She was suffering due to physical and mental changes, but also because of the monsoon flooding and the effects of the COVD-19 pandemic, all of which have restricted her mobility. She was happy to receive the MHM kits and felt that she now has useful information on sexual and reproductive health and rights, menstrual hygiene and COVID-19.

“If I see any of my friends being forced into child marriage, I will call the helpline mentioned in the flashcards to stop it from happening,” she shares.

Beneficiaries after receiving MHM Kits. 
Beneficiaries after receiving MHM Kits. UNV 2021

Pragna has been supporting the UNFPA Adolescents and Youth unit in Cox's Bazar, and relevant partners, with planning, coordination and monitoring to distribute over 1000 MHM kits during the emergency.

Pragna plays a critical role in the provision of Sexual and Reproductive Health and Rights (SRHR) and gender-transformative life skills education for adolescents and youth in the Rohingya camps and host communities. Her contributions have been tremendous and her impact undoubtable, particularly given the challenges presented by the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic and the recent fires and floods. I consider her to be a true humanitarian." -- Aramide Odutayo, Programme Analyst, UNFPA Bangladesh

Pragna also supports live radio shows about risk mitigation - aired on local radio stations - to raise awareness among adolescents, youth and their caregivers about natural disasters and emergencies.

She has also worked with adolescents and youth on sustainable micro-gardening projects, and supported the Champions of Change project to provide education on life skills, SRHR and gender-based violence to adolescent boys and young men.

Like Pragna, many UN Volunteers worldwide dedicate their time and efforts to address global challenges and act in solidarity with people who need it the most. Today, World Humanitarian Day, we thank them all for their commitment.