The frequency and intensity of extreme climatic events are expected to increase in Bangladesh because of climate change, with devastating economic, social and ecological consequences. The risks from climate variability and change are geographically concentrated in six specific regions of the country. These regions 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, ground water and soil. The Northwest Barind Tract is prone to drought. The Northeast haor or freshwater wetland area alternately face 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.
Established in 2010, the BCCRF is supported by Australia, Denmark, the European Union, Sweden, Switzerland, the United Kingdom, and the United States. The fund is supporting Bangladesh in strengthening its resilience to climate change. BCCRF has also recognized the long-indispensable roles of local empowerment and numerous NGOs in community-based programs and services often in partnership with government and international development partners. BCCRF allocated $13 million of its climate-resilience funding to NGOs through its Community Climate Change Project (CCCP). The CCCP, in turn, provides competitive grants to NGOs to implement community-driven adaptation to climate change. The BCCRF Governing Council designated the Palli Karma-Sahayak Foundation 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.
With few resources and no opportunity to relocate, these people know they must develop enough flexibility to adapt and survive. Every aspect of their lives is at risk — homes, livelihoods, food and water security, health, and well-being. The CCCP aimed to strengthen their resilience to cope with both current and future climate stresses by improving infrastructure, adapting agricultural practices, and finding innovative sources of income.
PKSF assigned 41 CCCP sub-projects to competitively selected local NGOs. The projects include raising homes to prevent daily inundation; climate adaptive alternative livelihoods; ensuring access to safe freshwater by rainwater harvesting; excavating ponds with Pond Sand Filter (PSF) and performing desalination in water-scarce villages; and adapting agricultural practices to farm drought-resistant or flood-tolerant crops.
In the high-saline areas, where traditional agriculture fails, the project helped the community to shift to salinity tolerant mud crab cultivation. With a growing demand of the crab species in the international market, the local community, especially the women have raised their income level. Collectively, these changes exemplify the capacity of local communities to become 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.