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WB to provide $175m to Bangladesh for increasing forest cover

  • Published at 03:44 pm November 5th, 2018
Rohingya Refugees destroying trees, planted under social forestry projects, to establish settlements Abdul Aziz/Dhaka Tribune

The World Bank will also provide an additional $25m for the education of Rohingya children and youths

The World Bank has signed an agreement with Bangladesh to provide $175m to increase the country’s forest cover.

Economic Relations Division Secretary Monowar Ahmed and World Bank Country Director Bangladesh, Bhutan, and Nepal Qimiao Fan signed the agreement on Monday.

As per the agreement, the money will be used for Bangladesh’s forest cover, including the forests in:  coastal areas, hilly regions, central districts, and Cox’s Bazar.

The bank will also provide an additional $25m for the education of 350,000 Rohingya children and youths—who entered Bangladesh fleeing the violence in Myanmar which erupted on August 25, 2017.

Under the Sustainable Forests and Livelihoods Project, the $175m fund will be utilized to plant trees on around 79,000 hectares of forest land, through a collaborative forest management system.

Only 11% of Bangladesh’s land is forested— which is significantly lower than the Asian average of 26%. By increasing forest cover, the project will help the country become more climate-resilient, the World Bank said.

It will also help 40,000 underprivileged people  earn more money via alternative income generation activities, it added.

The sudden influx of over 725,000 Rohingya to Cox’s Bazar lost the country nearly 13,000 hectares of forest land. The project will restore trees to19,925 hectares of the coastal district.

The project will also help the host communities by creating income-generating activities; improving the sustainable availability of fuel-wood ; and reducing human- elephant conflict—which has increased due to elephants’ loss of habitat following the Rohingya influx.

The credit to the Sustainable Forests and Livelihoods Project, from the World Bank’s International Development Association, has a 30-year term, including a five-year grace period.

The $25m fund will be spent on the Reaching Out of School Children Project II (ROSC II).

Of the $25m financing to the ROSC II project, the World Bank will provide $21m as a grant through the IDA18 Regional Sub-window for Refugees and Host Communities, and the Government of Canada will provide a $4m grant. 

The ROSC II project will help 350,000 Rohingya children and adolescents attain a basic education and psychosocial support. 

As part of the project, around 2,000 teachers and instructors will be recruited. More than half of the teachers will be female, and trained to help girls manage safety concerns and, if needed, guide them to safe locations. 

The preparation of textbooks and learning materials will adhere to the government’s Learning Competency Framework.

World Bank Country Director Qimiao Fan said: “Despite its own challenges, Bangladesh generously provided shelter to about a million Rohingya refugees. The local people, many of whom are poor, welcomed the displaced Rohingyas and shared food and resources.

“But the needs of both the Rohingya and the host community are huge.”

He said: “This financing with the government’s help, will improve the resilience and livelihoods of the host community as well as address the learning and psycho-social needs of Rohingya children and adolescents.”

The existing project is also being extended for two years, which will bring poor children – from the host community in the area – back to school in Cox’s Bazar, which has the lowest net education enrollment rate in the country, according to World Bank.

The project extension will provide training for more than 17,000 local adolescents and help them with job placements.

Since January 2018, the project has provided training, employment, and enterprise development support to about 8,000 local adolescents who have dropped out of school.