February 21, 2011, DHAKA: After visiting several World Bank-financed projects focused on climate change, transport, disaster risk management, and rural livelihoods, and also studying upcoming operations, the World Bank’s Vice President for Sustainable Development, Inger Andersen, has concluded a five-day visit to Bangladesh.
During her visit, Andersen also met with Finance Minister A. M. A. Muhit and other senior government officials including the Economic Advisor to the Prime Minister, Minister of Agriculture, the Minister of Food and Disaster Management, the Minister of Communications and the State Minister of Environment and Forests.
“Bangladesh faces multiple challenges on its path of inclusive and sustainable growth leading to lasting poverty reduction,” said Andersen. “The people and government of Bangladesh have shown what can be achieved by working across sectors to pursue smart policies that respect and protect citizens and the environment they live in. Wherever I went in the country, even in the most disaster prone and cyclone-affected areas, I was impressed by the resilience of people determined to improve their lives and proud to build their country. The World Bank will be there to help them.”
Over the course of the visit, Andersen toured the site of the proposed Padma multipurpose bridge, to be financed in part by the World Bank and being built to remove a major logistical roadblock to economic development in the southwest region. The Government has started development of resettlement sites to accommodate households affected by the future location of the bridge.
“Our policy is to ensure that the impact of bridge construction is minimal for people living in the project area, and that those affected are fairly compensated for any loss that may occur,” Andersen remarked. “This is a major project that will bring much benefit to the entire country. In carrying it out, the country can develop much-needed transport infrastructure that contributes to poverty reduction while ensuring the protection of people, their livelihoods, and the environment they live in.” The $1.2 billion Padma Multipurpose Bridge project is scheduled for consideration by the World Bank Board of Directors later this month.
The World Bank Vice President visited the south-western coast to witness the effects of climate change. She saw and spoke with beneficiaries of Bank-financed projects, including initiatives such as those to rehabilitate and reinforce multi-function cyclone shelters, strengthen embankments, distribute new salt-tolerant rice seeds, install solar-powered energy systems for homes and shops, and promote sustainable rural livelihoods.
The World Bank has an active portfolio of US$500 million addressing climate change and environment-related issues in Bangladesh. The Bank is envisioning support of another $ 1.2 billion by 2015 to help the government deal with these issues.
Vice President Andersen also visited the Sunderbans, the largest estuary mangrove forest in the world, where the World Bank is supporting analytical work focusing on climate change adaptation, conservation, and alternative livelihoods for forest-dependant poor people. In partnership with the governments of Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Nepal, and other south and east Asian states, the World Bank is working on the preparation of a regional wildlife conservation project.
“We must work together to protect the Sunderbans,” said Andersen, “a treasure not just for those in Bangladesh or the region but for everyone in the world. I applaud the efforts underway by the people of Bangladesh and their government to preserve the Sunderbans. Nevertheless, challenges to the rich biodiversity of the area remain, which is why the World Bank will play its part in helping to protect this important ecosystem.”