• Thursday, Nov 15, 2018
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Developing adaptive capacity: Bangladesh’s journey towards resilience from vulnerability under LGED

Developing adaptive capacity: Bangladesh’s journey towards resilience from vulnerability under LGED
Bangladesh, known to be one of the most vulnerable countries to climate change impacts, has taken some serious strives that are turning it into arguably the most adaptive country in the world. Although the climate induced natural calamities have increased their frequency and intensity in past few decades, the country has accelerated on its development highway. This has been achieved through a robust development approach, not only in the infrastructure but also in the capacity of its citizens. The Coastal Climate Resilient Infrastructure Project (CCRIP), a project of the Local Government Engineering Department (LGED) for instance, is a demonstration of Bangladesh’s recent approach where even an infrastructure development project has a component for enhancing capacity of people to address climate change. To do so, the International Centre for Climate Change and Development (ICCCAD) has developed training materials and began facilitating a series of workshops – 12 in district-level: Madaripur, Shariatpur, Gopalganj, Bagerhat, Shatkhira, Khulna, Jhalokathi, Pirojpur, Barisal, Bhola, Barguna, and Potuakhali;  68 in Upazila-level, and 51 in village-level under this project. Workshop participants include district and Upazila-level government officials, local government representatives, university faculties, college and madrasa principals, teachers, NGO representatives, religious groups, retired government officers, students from colleges, high schools, and madrasas, local elites, freedom fighters, journalists, local businessmen etc. The workshops provided a common platform where resourced people on climate change and other sectors meet together to share their ideas and knowledge about climate change hazards, impacts, and adaptation. The workshops provided the participants with a basic understanding of climate change, followed by climate change hazards, impacts, and adaptation options from Bangladesh’s perspective. People from coastal Bangladesh are facing several climate induced hazards like tidal floods, riverbank erosion, salinity intrusion, cyclones etc on a regular basis. Due to tidal floods, thousands of acres of land get submerged under saline water, hampering agricultural production and fish cultivation. People are forced to change their livelihoods due to salinity intrusion. Two consecutive cyclones, Sidr in 2007 and Aila in 2009, have caused monumental damage to the people, causing many casualties and loss of property during the events and affecting their livelihoods afterwards. [caption id="attachment_253512" align="aligncenter" width="800"] Facilitating workshop in Rupsha upazila[/caption] People in Bhola district are under constant threat of erosion. Many erosion victims are migrating to the capital city every day, ending up in one of the “Bhola” slums without any guarantee of basic needs like food, health, and sanitation. People in these regions know about the climate change impacts. After attending the workshop, they now understand the reason behind it, and what needs to be done to tackle climate change at local, national, and international levels. They may not comprehend the jargons related to climate change, but they can easily understand the situation if they can relate the local context with the global climate change. Some of the key highlights of these workshops are as follows: Bangladesh needs planned adaptation strategies to tackle climate change, which means strategies taken after scientific assessment of climate change impacts and vulnerabilities in long term, between 50 to 100 years and formulating impact reduction measures, both structural and non-structural with local experience. To reduce climate change impacts, there is a need to build erosion-protected climate resilient embankments and improved water drainage system. It will help reduce the impacts of sea level rise, salinity intrusion, and help protect land from erosion. To reduce water scarcity, large water bodies need to be excavated with high embankment to conserve rainwater in different locations in a village or a community. Embankment of such water bodies should be raised to make them free from inundation by flood and saline water. There is a need to stop tree cutting activities and people should be encouraged to plant more fruit bearing and location specific trees. Timber tree plantation activities should be discouraged. Human capital resource development initiatives such as promoting education, mass awareness programs, and skill development training on different IGAs need to be continued for undertaking sustainable adaptation strategies. The coastal people in Bangladesh are climbing up the ladder of developing adaptive capacity to climate change. Through this series of workshops, participants are encouraged in contributing more to the climate change resilience activities. They feel that such type of training workshops should be organized frequently in community, Upazila, and district levels. There is also a need for coordination and cooperation among different departments and stakeholders for getting effective results on climate change adaptation related projects.