New Delhi, April 8, 2013 ─ As part of the Management of Land Acquisition, Resettlement and Rehabilitation (MLARR) Program in South Asia, the World Bank launched on April 9, 2013 two national and one regional centers of excellence in MLARR. These centers have been funded through support from AusAID. The national centers have been established at the BRAC Development Institute in Bangladesh, at the University of Punjab in Pakistan, and the regional center at the Administrative Staff College of India. A fourth national center for Nepal is being developed at the Tribhuvan University in Nepal.
The MLARR program has been supporting these institutions through course development and training with the aim of fostering more sustainable infrastructure delivery and socioeconomic growth across the region. A significant bottleneck for infrastructure development in South Asia is the delay in land acquisition and resettlement and rehabilitation of displaced communities. There is a significant dearth of trained professionals able to support governments and infrastructure companies in this area. The centers of excellence in MLARR will play an essential role in addressing these issues by supporting local capacity building and by facilitating knowledge sharing within countries and across the region.
After the launch of the first three centers of excellence, the MLARR program will further expand and enhance its activities focusing on: i) further support to the national centers and their capacity building efforts; ii) up-gradation and extension of the MLARR online course throughout the region; iii) creation of a MLARR professional network through the national centers; iv) promotion of South-South dialogue and dissemination of good practices in benefit-sharing mechanisms and infrastructure development.
The launch of the three centers of excellence follows the success of the MLARR initiatives developed in the region by The World Bank, with AusAID funding, since 2009. A graduate level course was started in 2009 at the BRAC Development Institute in Bangladesh. Inaugurated by the High Commissioner for Australia Justin Lee, this self-sustaining course has been a key component of the Masters in Development Program. The same year, a short-term training course was developed and provided to the staff of the major infrastructure companies in Bangladesh. Thanks to the positive response, the program has expanded to other countries in the region and to Africa and East Asia through South-South exchanges. In 2012, two regional workshops were held on MLARR and benefit-sharing mechanisms in infrastructure development. The first, held in January in Nepal, saw more than 100 participants from South Asia, China, Turkey and Laos; the second was held in Islamabad in association with the Ministry of Water And Power and was video-linked with New Delhi, Dhaka and Beijing to guarantee a regional participation.