Dhaka, Bangladesh (BBN)– The U.S. Government through its premier development agency, U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), is funding a four-year $40.5 million project to construct 100 primary school/cyclone shelters in the disaster prone areas of Bangladesh.

These shelters will provide accommodation for up to 180,000 inhabitants during an emergency and will serve as schools for approximately 18,000 students when not in use as shelters.  

The shelters are equipped with a separate room with first aid facilities for pregnant women, toilets for men and women, and water supply facilities with rain water catchment reservoirs.

“The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) will implement this project, which is already in progress,” a US embassy press statement said in Dhaka on Sunday.  

USAID has a longstanding commitment of investing in disaster preparedness and mitigation programs in Bangladesh. USAID programs include the construction and maintenance of over 500 multi-purpose flood and cyclone shelters as well as wave protection walls and earthen embankments to reduce flood damage.

In addition, USAID has built nearly 4,000 physical mitigation structures such as roads and embankments, has trained local disaster management committees to oversee emergency response, and has provided cyclone-preparedness training programs for coastal areas.

Over the past decade, USAID programs have promoted coordination between communities and local authorities and supported the operation of mobile water purification plants and mobile health units. USAID also has supported community flood monitoring and forecasting to mitigate damage in flood plains.

The U.S. Government through USAID has provided over $5.8 billion in development assistance to Bangladesh since 1971. In addition to providing immediate food assistance, USAID has provided significant contributions to Bangladesh to encourage higher education in agriculture and develop agricultural research facilities.

Established by President John F. Kennedy in 1962, USAID marks its 50th year anniversary as an agency in 2012. Across the globe, USAID’s 110 missions will be celebrating throughout the year with in-country activities.

BBN/SSR/AD-31Oct11-1:11 pm (BST)