A HEREFORD charity has received nearly £500,000 to help families in Bangladesh cope with rising sea levels.

Concern Universal, which is based on King Street and is helping to tackle poverty around the world, has received a total of £473,405 from the BIG Lottery fund.

It will be used to help 34,543 families in 82 villages in South-West Bangladesh make their homes, land, schools, storm shelters and communities more resilient.

The three-year project will also help families find ways of making a living, without being affected by rising water levels.

One of the most densely populated countries in the world, around 84 per cent of the Bangladesh population live in poverty and the majority of the population live on flood plains.

Concern Universal believe that, by 2100, up to 50 per cent of South-Western Bangladesh will be underwater.

"Rising global temperatures bring more and more cyclones, storm surges and river floods," the charity said in a statement.

"The lives and livelihoods of people living in coastal areas of south-western Bangladesh are increasingly affected by persistent water-logging.

"Land is flooded – ruining food supplies and sources of income, houses are flooded or swept away, and dirty water spreads disease and ruins clean water sources.

"The project will make it easier for communities in Bangladesh to prepare for and respond to floods.

"It will help people to develop action plans to rehabilitate and upgrade river embankments, and to introduce innovative and eco-friendly farming approaches that will help poor farmers earn more money."

Concern Universal has worked in Bangladesh since 1994 and provides primary health care, water and sanitation (particularly in schools), and short-term emergency relief to rural residents adapting to climate change.

To find out more about Concern Universal’s work visit concern-universal.org