DHAKA, February 27, 2013 — The government of Bangladesh signed a $33.8 million grant agreement today with the World Bank to increase forest cover in the coastal and hilly areas of Bangladesh to reduce the impact of cyclones and tidal surges. Through community participatory and co-management approaches, the Climate Resilient Participatory Afforestation and Reforestation Project will provide forest and plantation cover in 17,000 hectares of land and 1,672 km of roadside in areas where communities bear the brunt of climate change. The project will be financed by the Bangladesh Climate Change Resilience Fund (BCCRF), an innovative multi-donor financing mechanism.
The project will increase climate resilience of people and infrastructure by significantly reducing the loss of life and livelihoods and property damage caused by extreme weather events. In addition, the project will create jobs in social forestry and provide alternate income opportunities to poor people in the climate vulnerable areas, reducing their dependence on forest resources for livelihoods. The project will create around 3.18 million work days of additional jobs, benefiting around 6,000 poor households, many of them headed by women. The project will also train around 15,000 forest-dependent people on participatory forest management, climate change management, and basic entrepreneurial and business management skills.
“Coastal afforestation has been effective in dampening storm surge velocity during Cyclone Sidr in 2007 and Cyclone Aila in 2009, saving millions of lives and significantly reducing devastation compared with the cyclone in 1991” said Salman Zaheer, Acting Country Director of Bangladesh, World Bank. “This project, under the BCCRF, is a timely initiative to build the country’s resilience to climate change while also expanding sustainable livelihood and income opportunities for vulnerable communities.”
The Bangladesh Forest Department and Arannayk Foundation will implement the afforestation and reforestation activities in the nine coastal districts: Cox’s Bazar, Chittagong, Noakhali, Laxmipur, Feni, Barisal, Patuakhali, Barguna and Bhola; and in the hilly areas of the reserved forest land of Chittagong and Cox’s Bazar. Following a transparent selection process, local communities will combine locally tested forestation techniques with improved forest management practices to alleviate the adverse effects of cyclones and tidal surges.
The project will strengthen the capacities of the Government of Bangladesh’s Department of Forests to plan and manage forest resources through activities such as updating the Forestry Sector Master Plan, mainstreaming Geographic Information System (GIS) and Remote Sensing (RS) based monitoring, and integrating climate change into the planning process.
“The project directly contributes to government of Bangladesh’s climate change adaptation vision” said Mr. Arastoo Khan, Additional Secretary, Economic Relations Division, Government of Bangladesh. “The project will play a pivotal role in implementing cost-effective climate resilience approaches and in parallel providing socio-economic and environmental co-benefits.”
Mr. Arastoo Khan, Additional Secretary, Economic Relations Division and Mr. Salman Zaheer, Acting Country Director, World Bank Bangladesh signed on behalf of the Government of Bangladesh and the World Bank respectively, at the Economic Relations Division.
The government of Bangladesh has successfully aligned its development partners to address the country’s climate change challenges by having them establish a multi-donor fund – the Bangladesh Climate Change Resilience Fund. So far, the BCCRF has channeled $189 million in grant funds from seven development partners, namely Australia, Denmark, the European Union, Sweden, Switzerland, the UK and the USA to strengthen resilience to climate change. The government of Bangladesh is in the driver’s seat and has the authority to decide which projects to fund and how they are to be implemented. On an interim basis, the implementation and administration of the fund is augmented by the World Bank, especially in the areas of ensuring fiduciary transparency and accountability due diligence.