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FEATURE STORY

Bangladesh: Community-Driven Attempts to Build Climate Change Resiliency

July 17, 2014

STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Bangladesh is one of the most vulnerable countries to the potential impacts of climate change.
  • The Community Climate Change Project (CCCP) is allocating funds on a competitive basis to nongovernmental organizations (NGO) which supports people even in “hard to reach” areas.
  • Awarded NGOs will implement community-driven interventions to build people’s resilience to climate change impacts.

The Government of Bangladesh has set up a multi-donor trust fund Bangladesh Climate Change Resilience Fund (BCCRF), a ‘one-stop’ mechanism for large-scale climate change financing in Bangladesh. One of the two windows of BCCRF, the Community Climate Change Project (CCCP) is allocating funds on a competitive basis to nongovernmental organizations (NGO) to implement community-driven interventions that build resilience to climate change impacts.

Challenge

Particular risks associated with a potential 2°C to 4°C warming this century include higher sea levels, more intense cyclones, more days of extreme rainfall, greater flooding, longer dry spells, greater groundwater stress, and lower crop yields. These add to hazards that Bangladeshis already face, including regular inundations and contamination of freshwater sources from salinity, which will be an addition to the devastating economic, social and vulnerable ecological consequences. The risks from climate variability and change are geographically concentrated in six specific regions of the country, which also have higher concentrations of the poor—the subsistence farmers, the rural landless, fishing communities, and urban poor. The areas are largely defined by their physiology and ecology and have varying climate change risks.

The South, Southwest, and Southeast coastal region is at risk from increasingly frequent and severe tropical cyclones, sea level rise causing drainage congestion, and saline intrusion in surface and ground water and soil. The Northwest Barind Tract is prone to drought while the Northeast haor or freshwater wetland area is alternately impacted by delayed rainfall or early flooding, and sedimentation from erosion of the surrounding hill areas. On the other hand the Central char and floodplains are prone to flooding, flash floods, and river bank erosion; the Hill Tracts are prone to landslides; and the urban areas are impacted by drainage congestion.


Approach

BCCRF has recognized the long-indispensable roles of local empowerment and numerous nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) in community-based programs and services (often in partnership with government and international development partners) by allocating US$12.5 million of its climate-resilience funding to NGOs through its Community Climate Change Project (CCCP). Of this amount, US$ 10.4 million will focus on competitive grants to NGOs to implement community-driven adaptation to climate change. The remaining funds will be allocated to monitoring, learning and sub-project refinement, through knowledge sharing and dissemination of lessons learned. The BCCRF Governing Council designated the Palli Karma-Sahayak Foundation (PKSF) as the responsible agency for this project. The CCCP focuses on the communities hit hardest by current weather extremes: populations who live in coastal areas affected by saltwater intrusions, in flood-prone chars (silt islands in rivers) and river basins, or in areas afflicted by recurring droughts. The target Upazillas have been identified based upon the degree of exposure to climate risk, and level of poverty.

At present, PKSF has assigned 27 CCCP subprojects to competitively selected local NGOs. The projects include raising homes to prevent daily inundation; repairing roads and planting trees to strengthen road embankments; ensuring access to safe freshwater by rainwater harvesting; excavating ponds and performing desalination in water-scarce villages; and adapting agricultural practices to farm drought-resistant or flood-tolerant crops. The 27 projects include 10 in the high-saline areas, 9 in the flood-affected areas and 8 in the drought-prone areas, with each addressing at least one of the six thematic pillars of the Bangladesh Climate Change Strategic Action Plan (BCCSAP).

In the high-saline areas, for example, where traditional agriculture is failing, farming practices are shifting to cultivating mud crabs (Scylla serrata), which tolerate high salinity and for which the international market is significant and growing. Such approaches present new opportunities for women to enter the local work force and provide income to purchase the foodstuffs that they cannot produce locally. Collectively, these changes exemplify the capacity of local communities to become more financially self-reliant and resilient to weather and climate extremes. The efforts also highlight the importance of focusing climate services on the ongoing needs of these communities, which will continue to bear the brunt of weather and climate extremes.

The project is an innovative approach to reach the climate hit vulnerable communities in hard to reach areas. Transparency was maintained at every step of the project selection process. All relevant documents for awarded full proposals are and will be posted at the CCCP website. PKSF provided unsuccessful NGOs clear indications as to which selection criteria they had not fulfilled. The rejection criteria for the concept note will also be posted on the website. The selected projects will be implemented by NGOs with active participation of the local communities to implement adaptation activities at the grass-root level.

Results in Numbers

  • Nearly 500 project concept notes received following first call for proposals.
  • To date 27 sub-grants awarded.