Government commitment to protecting our country from the impacts of climate change
Rezaur Rahman

In the first four years of operation Tk2,700cr has been allocated by the BCCTF

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    Photo- NASHIRUL ISLAM

Our geographical location within a low-lying coastal delta at the meeting point of several major river systems makes us more exposed than most countries to changes in temperature, rainfall patterns, and sea-level rise (collectively known as climate change).  Government has been very proactive in putting in place measures to reduce our vulnerability and ensure that negative climate change impacts are minimised. 

The Bangladesh Climate Change Strategy and Action Plan (BCCSAP) was formulated in 2009, and then the Bangladesh Climate Change Trust Fund (BCCTF) was constituted from its revenue budget in the fiscal year of 2009-10. Both instruments are innovations for a Least Developed Country (LDC). As well as addressing adaptation, BCCSAP provides support to mitigation and low carbon development, enabling us to leapfrog the fossil fuel-dependent “dirty development” trajectory followed by the West. The BCCTF is the first national dedicated climate change response fund constituted by an LDC-highlighting government’s commitment to addressing climate change through the national budget, as well as through international climate finance.

BUET has conducted an analysis of the BCCTF-financed interventions as part of a project on Deltas, Vulnerability and Climate Change: Migration and Adaptation (www.deccma.com), funded by Canada’s International Development Research Centre. The focus was to investigate the type of interventions and where they have taken place. In the first four years of operation Tk2,700 crore has been allocated by the BCCTF.  This has promoted adaptation through 390 interventions carried out by 22 institutions, the majority of which are government, semi-government or autonomous agencies (e.g. Bangladesh Water Development Board (40%), different city corporations and district councils (18%), and the Forest Department (10%)). Among the organisations that received the BCCT fund, only one was a non-government agency (GIZ) and no NGO received the fund directly from the Trust.

Disaster risk reduction (such as cyclone resistant houses and shelters, river bank protection etc), urban development (such as piped water supply and drainage improvement), and coastal zone management (such as aforestation, re-excavation of river etc.) received about 37%, 25%, and 20% of the interventions, respectively. Bangladesh is known to be a disaster prone country and such disasters will intensify under climate change. Therefore, the priority investment in disaster risk reduction will significantly reduce the country’s vulnerability to climate change.It is also notable that BCCT supported a number of measures for mitigating carbon emissions, such as installation of solar panel, bio-gas plant, and bio-fertilizer plant. It was found however, that funding for research and capacity building was insignificant.

The coastal districts have seen the majority of interventions, with more than half taking place in the delta (defined by DECCMA as areas less than 5m above sea level).  Notably Chittagong has seen an abundance of projects due to its high vulnerability as a result of combination of its coastal location and urban areas. Based on this, we can assume sea level rise is among the biggest risks facing Bangladesh under climate change.

Sector-wise distribution of BCCTF interventions

The level of commitment to adaptation to climate change in Bangladesh is admirable, as shown by the amount of investment and the wide variety of interventions in the at-risk coastal zones.  From the analysis, two priorities are highlighted for future progress.  The first is to ensure that research findings and lessons learned from adaptation projects are made available, so that we do not needlessly duplicate efforts and make the same mistakes.  The second is to ensure that organisations are aware of the risks in order that they can modify their own activities to reduce the adverse impacts of climate change. There is also scope for more NGOs to be involved, particularly at community level, where their intimate knowledge of local dynamics and contexts makes them ideal project partners for effective vulnerability reduction. 

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Rezaur Rahman

Rezaur Rahman, Institute of Water and Flood Management, Bangladesh University of Engineering and Technology (BUET).