Community-level bridge construction needs collaborative actions from the LGI and NGO sector
Due to climate change, extreme weather events like tropical cyclones, waterlogging, tidal surges, storm surges, river-bank erosions, salinity intrusion in water and soil have been increasing in both magnitude and frequency in recent years. This irreversible change has been causing severe damages to the physical constructions like roads, bridges, and culverts, etc in the coastal area. The constructive actions will be effective and sustaining if those are done jointly with the initiative from the Local Government Institutes and NGOs/private sectors.
Godaipur village at Paikgacha sub-district in Khulna district is one of the most climate vulnerable villages because of its location adjacent of the Sundarbans. This area experiences different types of slow onset and sudden disasters almost every year because of the climate change impacts. As a result, a huge number of physical constructions like road, bridges and culverts etc. have been damaged in recent years. After Sidar and Aila, the frequency of tropical cyclones has increased and several disasters occurred by the last ten years including Cyclone Mohasen, Fani, Bulbul and Amphan.
Aftermath of cyclone Amphan in May 2020, large extents of the physical establishments especially bridges and culverts have been damaged in the union. High water pressure resulting from severe high tides, and extreme water flows have incurred severe damages to the bridges and culverts in the communities and are in need to be reconstructed. Recently, the local government Institutions (Union Parishad) has focused on investing in the reconstruction of those bridges and culverts through Risk Reduction Action Plan though it lacks resource/fund to meet the high demand from the community. Hence, a joint initiative in imperative and evidence of successful implementation jointly by LGI and NGO (PJP project) has been detailed here.
There are 1,365 households in Godaipur village, most of which belong to disadvantaged groups. Agriculture (home-stead gardening and nursery, fishing and fish farming) is the main occupation of the people in this area. This village is connected with a bridge to Bohorbunia Bazar and this is the only direct thoroughfare to the local market, with no other alternative. Fazlu Morol, a smallholder farmer from Godaipur village stated, “I was not able to sell our agri-products in time which adversely affected in my income and livelihood.” Another smallholder farmer from Godaipur Purbo Para, Rashida Begum, said, “I have suffered a lot during the rainy season for last 4-5 years. I was not able to bring my home-stead garden-produced monsoon vegetables to the Godaipur Bazar myself. I had to sell to the local Foria (buyer) at lower price.”
This is to note that the village usually gets waterlogged during the rainy season. The community used to travel a long way through a bamboo footbridge over the canal for their daily purpose (ie schooling, access to market etc). “It was very difficult for me to go to the school. Twice my books and notebooks were destroyed while crossing the river. Many of my classmates have had this problem,” Md Rakib Hossain, a student of Godaipur High School shared his experience.
Since 2018, the community got mobilized to address the climate change adaptation including the revitalization of the Ward Disaster Management Committee’s (WDMC)s, conduction of Risk Reduction Action Plannings (RRAP) at the union, ward and community level. In 2019, the UP had taken the RRAP from this community and ward into consideration. Md Jabed Ali, Member, Godaipur union Parishad said, “During the finalization of the Disaster Risk Reduction Plan, we included 3 schemes of the Ward No-8 (Godaipur village) and implemented in 2019-2020 financial year. But, we could not step that much because of limited fund.” Due to the limited UP-budget, UDMC was not able to implement the scheme from that RRAP in that year.
Then, Panii Jibon project had approached the LGI for a joint initiative. And, the UP had agreed to implement the schemes in the current year through the co-financing method. Mst Razia Sultana, Member of Godaipur WDMC stated, “Considering the importance of the community’s appeal and influencing, we (Godaipur WDMC) included the scheme of installing the wooden bridge from the RRAP. We are also grateful to the communities and PJP who provided enormous support during the construction.” In this connection, WDMC has decided to build a Wooden Bridge in Godaipur village with joint co-financing of LGI and PJP fund with 25% cost-sharing by the Union Parishad (total cost Tk65,200).
Now thousands of people from the village are well-connected to the Union and other areas, with increased access to market, education, and health centres. “Now I can bring my vegetables to the market and get a fair price. The bridge plays a crucial role to my income generation,” Rashida Begum, a smallholder farmer from Purbo Para in Godaipur village shared.
It is also important to have the participation of local people and the government to ensure optimum utility and benefit from these interventions. For an intervention to sustain, it is important to ensure local ownership for maintenance of the constructions timely. Thus, it is imperative that LGI, NGO/Private Sectors and communities are engaged, in the implementation and management of the infrastructures.
MM Jakaria s working in Helvetas Swiss Intercooperation as a Monitoring & Evaluation Specialist in Panii Jibon Project, his research interest lies in the community-led climate change adaptation system. Can be reached at [email protected]
Md Kamruzzaman Khan is working in Bangladesh Disaster Preparedness Center (BDPC) as a Field Coordinator, his research interest lies in Climate Change and DRR. Can be reached at [email protected]