I lead a number of research projects during the last couple of years for different national and international agencies. The results produced in these works may facilitate understanding better the challenges remain in areas of climate change and disaster management, development issues and environment of Bangladesh.
This Climate Public Expenditure and Institutional Review (CPEIR) reviewed the policy, institutional andfinancial management arrangements of the agencies involved in climate sensitive activity in Bangladesh. Due primarily to time constraints, the review focused mainly on Government – both central and local government – but some data has been collected on private sector, non-governmental organisations and households.The study developed an initial methodology to identify and assess the financial scale of climate sensitive activity carried out by the Government. This methodology was applied to generate initial indicative figures and analysis of budgets and spend from the past three financial years. The figures were set in a national context by comparing the budgets and spend to both GDP and the Government budget as a whole. Public Financial Management systems were also reviewed. Analyses of the international arrangements for financing climate actions, the current roles of NGOs, the private sector and households in Bangladesh were also considered. The study sets out evidence and conclusions from these reviews and presents twenty next stage recommendations for consideration by the Government and development partners.
A number of objectives were agreed by the Steering Committee for the study in September 2011. These are set out below
The review focused mainly on government financial and policy arrangements as, the government is by far the largest funder of climate actions in Bangladesh – with around three quarters of governmentexpenditure funded from domestic sources. This confirms that in principle a Climate Fiscal Framework should be set firmly within government systems, but should recognise that significant components of funding will also come from development partners, NGOs and the private sector.
The evidence identified in the study suggests that strengthening of capacity and institutions should be focussed on the key mechanisms of climate finance delivery within government, namely the Finance Division, Planning Commission and the technical functions associated with delivery of the Bangladesh Climate Strategy and Action Plan (BCCSAP). The major findings from the CPEIR are noted below.
The SUNDARI project aims to maintaining and improving Sundarbans biodiversity by performing a series of interventions in different upazilas of Satkhira and Khulna districts. Concern Worldwide (CWW) envisions doing that (under the scope of EC supported SEALS project) by reducing human pressure on Sunderbans. The project thus conceives that food insecurity in the regions, disaster impacts and lack of cooperative approach to manage forests are the key drivers that cause human pressure on Sundarban forest resources. Concern worldwide considers that human pressure on the Sundarban resources could be reduced if three specific objectives are attained. The objectives (called Results by CWW) are,
|Result 1:||Improved food security and reduced dependency of 25,000 SRF resource harvesters through improved SRF product value chains and alternative livelihoods|
|Result 2:||Disaster resilient 1277 SIZ communities dependent on SRF resources|
|Result 3:||Protection of SRF improved through strengthened grass-roots institutions contributing to active SRF co-management committees.|
It is also conceived that giving protection to livelihoods options, specially to the women, by developing Self Help Groups (SHG), working under the control, guidance, supervision of CBO (Community based Organization) would have immense contributions in achieving the results. It is also planned that improvements of pro-poor value chain of the forest products may stimulate the economic growth of the harvesters’ communities and private sector as well of the region. It is also mentioned in the project proposal that SUNDARI project will develop forest users’ awarenesson sustainable SRF collection and persuade people to participate in the forest Co-Management activities. These issues are taken into consideration in doing all related activities like sampling design, data collection tools preparation, and to develop the baseline survey report.
Changes in climatic conditions represent one of the greatest challenges facing humanity over the comingdecades. With over half of the world’s population now concentrated in urban settlements, climate change impacts pose serious risks for many of the rapidly growing cities of the world. In Asia Pacific, the concentration of people and the ever expanding population in cities expose a large number of people to significant climate related risks. Urban areas contribute to over 80% of the region’s GDP1 yet despite this economic growth, development has not been inclusive. The inequality between the urban rich and poor and the marginalization of the poor is compromising urban poor’s resilience to climate change.
The capacity of city governments to assess the threats of climate change and to take action is crucial. Whilst many city governments have begun to grasp the importance of climate change adaptation and its direct relation to sustainable urban development, urban adaptation efforts tend shy away from adaptation approaches that build on ecosystem-based services.
Ecosystems that surround urban areas (e.g. forested, agricultural or natural landscaped environments), though often located some distance away from the urban centers themselves, provide essential ecosystems services to the inhabitants of cities. A range of known ecosystem services (e.g. wood, food, tourism) and less well known ecosystem services (e.g. replenishment of clean ground and surface water supplies, biodiversity havens supporting agricultural practices and food security; and pollution and temperature controls for improved micro-climatic and environmental urban conditions) are being provided to the urban population. These ecosystem services are of significant social, economic and environmental value to inhabitants of urban areas, though rarely is the ecosystems’ true value accounted for or acted upon in policy and planning decisions.
Unfortunately, many cities in Asia are characterized by environmental resource degradation and pollution. ‘Green’ areas or ecosystems located in and around cities are removed to make way for brown or grey infrastructure to meet commercial and industrial demand and housing needs. These developments have led to increased risks of flooding and landslides, particularly for the urban poor who tend to live in high risk areas and lack access to basic services that could provide security and coping mechanisms in times of disasters.
For cities to thrive in the face of changing climatic conditions, urban communities need to be better equipped with adaptive capacity to cope with future changes. For this, city governments need to have the capacity to adopt pro-poor, financially-viable and sustainable adaptation solutions that can build long term resilience of urban communities.
Ecosystem-based Adaptation (EbA) is “the use of biodiversity and ecosystem services to help people adapt to the adverse effects of climate change.”2 It is an approach that focuses on restoring and maintaining ecosystem services as a way of building the climate resilience of communities and the livelihoods of communities living in, or relying on, these ecosystems and ecosystem services. EbA is a cost effective operational tool that has recently been brought to the fore of adaptation policies and practices.
The evaluation process relied on project documents and logical framework to insert the baseline situations in order to measure the achievements and success of the project. The results demonstrated how the project contributes to promoting human rights for preventing violence and discrimination against women and girls in target areas.
However, this external evaluation assessed the impact of project activities on target groups and beneficiaries; it also examined how the project has created a positive mind set of the community groups including WAG, adolescent groups, local government representatives and other local stakeholders to act together for preventing all forms of violence and discrimination against women and girls in target areas. Finally, it has shown how the project components (e.g. awareness raising of vulnerable groups & communities;capacity building of local government, local institutions and civil society’ life skill development, victim’s support and social reintegration) have helped the direct beneficiaries to overcome existing challenges for protecting women and girls in a situation of violence and discrimination.
Water governance and management aspects appear to be the major issues to meet the bellicose demand for water by different contested sectors in Bangladesh. These aspects stretch from conceptualizing the problem, planning development and implementing projects to delivery of the services in the final leg. Water governance and management aspects evolved from historical times without receiving necessary attention on physical characteristic of the land that this water and silt dominated lower riparian country deserves. Later a set of policy and institutional frameworks came into action that govern and guide the aforementioned water governance and management concerns; these policy and institutional frameworks also supposed to act as the warden for addressing the corruption, transparency and accountability matters and to ensure inclusive decision making processes by involving different stakeholders. But absence of major watchdog in this sector for (i) overseeing the activities (from planning to operational activities), (ii) to make critical comments and suggestions for improvements through systematic investigations, (iii) to undertake advocacy campaigns to improve the water service delivery regimes limited the opportunities to incorporate integrity aspects in policy and institutional compositions and practice processes.
In these contexts, Bangladesh Water Integrity Network (BAWIN) plans to work in water sector to bring a change by addressing the gaps, some of which are indicated above. This baseline study on water integrity is commissioned by BAWIN as part of the commencement of their work in Bangladesh. The study aims to achieve three specific tasks, (i) mapping of the legal and institutional arrangement and capacity for governance and integrity in the water sector in selected city corporation areas and south-west coastal region, (ii) assessment of governance and integrity risks in terms of practice in the selected institutions/areas/region and (iii) identification of priority risk areas/institutions for intervention. Literature review, interviewing key personnel of water sector, group discussions were the key methods adopted in this study to gather data on water integrity aspects of Bangladesh.
In addition to policy and institutional review, the water integrity aspects in rural and urban contexts were investigated more elaborately. Activitiesof Bangladesh Water Development Board (BWDB) were analysed for understanding rural water integrity context and Dhaka Water Supply and Sewerage Authority (DWASA) was considered to assess the urban context. Twenty nine water related major law/ legislation/ policy for the management of water resources of Bangladesh were evaluated to examine the presence of issues like equitable service provisions, rights to water, voice and choice, gender, civil society participation, corruption, transparency and accountability, environmental management, water resources management, monitoring and evaluation and institutionalization and decentralization processes. In the similar fashion, the institutions related to water sector planning, governance/management, service delivery were reviewed to examine the degree of integrity aspects they follow in the operational processes. It was observed in the review that the overall management of water resources is shared between state water agencies, users of water including the public, NGOs and other government agencies engaged in agriculture, industry, commerce, water and sewage, public health, municipalities, inland water transport, fisheries, forestry and the environment. Policy and institutional review suggests that some of the aspects like water rights, equitable sharing and gender are to some extent, covered in the legislative frameworks and in the organizational mandates but corruption, accountability and transparency aspects are not clearly defined.
Focused and detailed investigation of water integrity in city corporation area (Dhaka) and in south-western coastal region (Khulna and Satkhira) examining the activities of two major organisations i.e., DWASA in Dhaka city corporation area and BWDB in south-western coastal region of Bangladesh were carried out to check how these organizations perform in typical physical, social and economic contextual settings. The activities of Dhaka WASA were examined in detail in order to capture water integrity issues in the city corporation area contexts. Lack of capacity to deliver water services/supply against demand, infringementof informal, unauthorized (e.g., middlemen) entities in different segments of water distribution processes,limited public participation in decision making processes, absence of necessary principles for effective water governance such as transparency, accountability, legitimacy and legality, equity and inclusiveness were identified as the major challenges for DWASA. The chapter also goes beyond the review of DWASA actions, rather commented on actions of other agencies as well and finally concluded that water crisis issues in Dhaka are mainly subject to incapacity of authorities to execute legal procedures against illegal/immoral actions of people and agencies both government and non-government (it may stretch from illegal river/canal occupation, dumping of industrial wastes to unplanned unban area development).
On the other hand, BWDB focuses on planning,development of new projects and engaged in operationand maintenance of existing water regulatory projects in Bangladesh. Flood control, improvement of drainage systems and irrigation facilities for enhanced food production are the prime mandates of this agency. It was also observed that BWDB activities have a lineage with the activities of WAPDA (Water and Power Development Authority) of East Pakistan, although currently this agency has got its own organogram and activity mandates under the auspices of BWDB Act 2000 and also guided by other related acts and policies like National Water Policy 1999 and National Water Management Plan 2001. BWDB is overwhelmed with the actions and programmes already introduced in Bangladesh by the predecessor agency WAPDA and recommendations made by Krug Mission and then by IECO in 1964, where the policies mentioned above were little successful to influence the activities of BWDB. It is important to note that during Pakistan periods the availability of water, water requirements by different sectors, patterns of disaster occurrence and impacts were different from later times when BWDB started working in Bangladesh to ensure best use of water and protect the country from water induced challenges/threats. In addition, increased requirements of water by differentsectors, water shortage at sources, contested nature of water use, increased frequency and new forms of hazards including climate change threats, poisoning (e.g. arsenic, chlorine) and pollution of water, illegal occupation of water courses, canals has emerged as new challenges in water sector and compounded the existing problems. These old and news sets of challenges collectively give new dimension to the pre-existing problems that are hardly addressed through new policies and less reflected in programmatic activities of BWDB.
Relevant chapter (Chapter 5) focuses on how faulty and partial reading of delta environment and project implementation create grounds for breakdown of water integrity in Bangladesh.The chapter concludes by identifying major gap that the policies and the institutions once developed to address more simpler types of challenges in earlier times are still remain almost in the same state and trying to address more complicated, multiple forms of impact conditions. However, major observations of the baseline study on water integrity aspects are summarized in the following sections, which will highlight the major concerns and at the same time indicate intervention actions and suggestions to improve water integrity aspects in Bangladesh.
Government of the Bangladesh is planning to establish National Oceanographic Research Institute (NORI) to foster and promote ocean related education, inventory, research and training related activities for efficient use of sea based resources. Both land and sea based education, research, exploration and training related functions will take place through different activities of NORI. The scientists, environmentalists, students and trainees from wide range of institutions and sectors and also the citizens of the country will join their respective programs of interest at NORI. A large size sea aquarium will be set in the institute premise, where sea water will be used to keep to sea creatures for teaching and display purposes. The Ministry of Science and Information & Communication Technology (MoSICT) is acting as the implementing agency of NORI at Cox’s Bazar. Before, starting up the construction of physical components of the project, MoSICT intends to conduct an Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) to identify probable impact scenarios on environmental and social components of the project components/interventions. This report presents possible impact conditions and provides the outline of Environmental Management Plan (EMP).
This research makes a new assessment of both the physical and social dimensions of deciduous forest resources located in the central part of Bangladesh. Satellite remote sensing data and techniques are used to detect spatial and temporal forest change, to measure forest biophysical vatiables and to appraise their potential for developing model predictions based on a field survey conducted in 2003. Post classification assessment and regression analysis were the main methods in remote sensing data analysis. The study focused on a part of deciduous forest (64 sq km) located in Madhupurthana for fine-scale forest assessment. Remote sensing results suggest that only 16 percent forest left in the study area compared to 3826 hectares in 1962. The forest biophysical variables show strong association with spectral information of satellite data. For instance, an R-squared of 0.79 for predicted variable (for tree height) was achieved while regressing with field data, indicating that remote sensing methods can be efficiently used even in the tropical forests where heterogeneity is common.
The second part of the thesis focuses on the underlying social factors/drivers that impacted on the forest, ranging from social dynamics such as land tenancy disputes, historical legacies and local corruption to policy failure by employing the theoretical framework of political ecology. Political ecological analysis in this research helped to evaluate the role and inter-relations of power, the ideological dilemmas and methodological disputes (i.e. the way forest problems are perceived) over forest resources in the study area. Field survey and observation was also found useful in gathering information about social variables by interviewing local inhabitants, forest officials, NGO activists, and politicians. The research employs methodologies from both science (i.e. remote sensing) and social science (i.e. political ecology) and the findings suggest that these two strands can work together for the better management (including resource assessment, monitoring and progress evaluation) of resources in Bangladesh.
Bangladesh is already one of the most climate-vulnerable countries in the world. Climate change and variability have had an impact on the lives and livelihoods of people living in coastal areas and in arid and semi-arid regions of Bangladesh. Floods, tropical cyclones, storm surges and droughts are becoming more frequent and are set to become even more severe in the coming years and decades. These changes are threatening the significant achievements Bangladesh has made over the last 20 years in increasing incomes, reducing poverty and achieving self-sufficiency in rice production. For these reasons, by many accounts, Bangladesh is considered to be the country the most vulnerable to climate change.
As a signatory to both the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC, ratified in 1994) and the Kyoto Protocol (2001), Bangladesh is also fully aware of the causes of climate change. According to the most recent national GHG inventory, the majority of Bangladesh’s CO2 emissions are derived from the energy sector, followed by the land-use, land-use change and forestry sector – with 32%.Hence, whilst devoting considerable resources to reducing vulnerability to climate change, and maintaining its path of economic development, Bangladesh is also striving to reduce its greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions.
The Conference of the Parties (COP) to the UNFCCC has adopted a forestry GHG emission mitigation mechanism known as “REDD+”. This is defined as ‘Policy approaches and positive incentives on issues relating to reducing emissions from deforestation and forest degradation in developing countries, and the role of conservation, sustainable management of forests and enhancement of forest carbon stocks in developing countries’. REDD+ will provide positive incentives to developing countries to voluntarily reduce their rates of deforestation and forest degradation, and to increase their forest carbon stocks, as part of a post-2020 global climate change agreement.
As part of its long term strategies to reduce GHG emissions, the Government of Bangladesh has taken initial steps to prepare for the implementation of REDD+ activities. Ithas established the national REDD+ Steering Committee. It has preparedthe REDD+ Readiness Roadmap – endorsed by the REDD+ Steering Committee in December 2012. Subsequently, in June 2013, the UN-REDD Programme invited Bangladesh to submit a REDD+ Readiness Preparation Proposal (R-PP).
Bangladesh has 2.6 million hectares of forestland, equivalent to almost 18% of country’s total area. There are five broad types of forest according to ecology and geographical location, these are: hill forest, plains forest (dominated by Shorearobusta, or sal), mangrove, coastal plantations, and wetland forest. The Government’s Forest Department manages 1.6 million hectares of the forest land. According to a national forest resource assessment undertaken in 2010, 11% of the country’s land is under tree cover. However, another 20% – that is approximately 2.5 million hectares – is recorded as ‘other wooded land’ or ‘other land with trees’.Hence, there is potentially an important scope for REDD+ activities in Bangladesh.
The history of forestry in Bangladesh is one of continuous depletion of forest resources both in terms of area and quality. Traditionally, plantations and forest reservations have been the tools to combat this depletion. However, increasingly since the early 1980s, forestry in Bangladesh has witnessed a rapid succession of social forestry programmes in an attempt to redress public alienation and to allow for wider participation of local people in forest use and management.